Sit-in ends at Gresham Elementary School

A sit-in ended overnight at Greshman Elementary over concerns of it being a part of CPS's takeover program.
Saturday, May 17, 2014
A sit-in ended overnight Friday at Gresham Elementary School at 85th and Green Street on Chicago's South Side.

More than 20 parents, students and staff members sat in at the school to protest the CPS board's decision to take over the school. The sit-in was ended overnight Friday when police escorted protesters from the building.

Citing low performance, CPS board members voted last month to include Gresham on its list of so-called takeover schools. As a part of the turnaround, all current staff members and teachers will be dismissed. The Academy for Urban School Leadership, or AUSL, takes over running these schools, hiring new teachers and staff.

Although the sit-in is over, parents are vowing to continue to fight to keep their school. Parents say the school is doing fine and new leadership is unnecessary, claiming CPS wants to turn the Gresham into a charter school.

"Go arrest somebody, go do something to somebody that's doing some harm to somebody else," said Tiffany Walker of Gresham Parents United for Change. "We're here about our kids, and CPS is keeping us from doing what is necessary for our children."

"CPS has engaged with parents and school communities throughout this process and will continue to work with them on a smooth transition to next school year," CPS Spokesman Joel Hood said in a statement. "Gresham parents participated in community meetings and public hearings around the turnaround plan and met personally with Board president David Vitale and other board members prior to last month's board vote. AUSL has a proven track record, combining academic rigor with strong school leadership, that will provide students with the foundation for academic success."

Gresham's principle, Dr. Diedrus Brown, says it is in the students' best interest for the school to remain a neighborhood school.

"This school does belong to me," Brown said, "it belongs to the students, the parents and the community members at Gresham."
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