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Parents, Sharpton boycott Fenger High

October 26, 2009 3:26:33 PM PDT
Reverend Al Sharpton is supporting a boycott of Chicago's Fenger High School. Parents organized the two-day boycott, saying that the school is not safe for their children, following the beating death of student Derrion Albert.

Parents say fighting and trouble at the school continues.

Reverend Sharpton says that he doesn't want to keep kids home from school, but he wants to see the overall problem solved, which requires finding a way for students from Altgeld Gardens to have safe passage to and from school and be safe inside the school itself.

Some parents supporting the boycott say that's not going to happen as long as their children remain at Fenger.

"She's more safe at home than she is at that building," said parent Kenya Atkins.

A group of Altgeld Gardens parents kept their children home from Fenger High School Monday and intend to do so again Tuesday.

The boycott is in response to the growing tensions inside Fenger since the September 24th beating death of 16-year-old student Derrion Albert.

Last Thursday, the school went into lockdown mode after a fight broke out between students from Altgeld and those from the Roseland community where Fenger sits.

Sherri Smith is the mother of one of those charged with killing Albert, and her other son was also involved in that fight.

"Since this incident happened with Derrion Albert, he's been home, and he still can't see. I can't let him go to school," Smith said.

The parents say what they want is a school inside their community.

CPS is offering Carver Military as an alternative, but not until next semester. Now Sharpton is joining their efforts, though at a press conference Monday he said he's not advocating kids stay home from school.

"If they had to lockdown the school Thursday because of fighting. Are we going to argue about the strategy to solved the problem or are we going to solve the problem?" Sharpton said.

CPS responded to the boycott with a statement that reads in part: "Chicago public school officials are equally concerned and remain committed to providing safe passage in cooperation with the Chicago Police Department, but a missed day of school is a missed opportunity for a student to succeed, and we encourage all students to stay in school to minimize any learning disruptions."

"He's not getting an education. I can promise you that. He's too concerned trying to figure out how he's going to fight his way in and fight his way out," said parent Roosevelt Hawkins.

Attendance numbers won't be known until Tuesday morning, so it's not known exactly how many students stayed home Monday.

Boycotting parents say they will continue to do what they have to do to keep their children safe and have also said they plan to go to Wednesday's CPS board meeting to protest there as well.


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