Ward to offer 'Safe Passage' for students

June 8, 2009 (CHICAGO) The school year is almost over for Chicago students, but Alderman Latasha Thomas plans to introduce The Safe Passage Initiative later this month. The initiative would place volunteers in neighborhoods as students head to and from school.

"Alone we can't do this. Bullying is a community issue it doesn't just happen inside schools. It doesn't just happen outside schools. It happens in communities," said Michelle Smith, A. Phillip Randolph Elementary School.

"Sometimes they're waiting on people to jump people and other times they just standing and waiting to mess with people," said Kaylan Udell, student.

"When I'm in school I'm just trying to think, 'Is my mom going to pick me up so I won't have to get beat up all the time? Is my sister going to be out there waiting on me to help me?'" said Nadyia Foster, student.

Alderman Thomas said the problems start just a couple of blocks from school when children from other neighborhoods and gangs would offer protection to students on their way home as an early entry into gang membership.

"It was three blocks away out of the school's purview where the fights happen," said Ald. Thomas, 17th Ward.

In another neighborhood, the Reverend Jesse Jackson stood with Chicago school officials at the DuSable High School campus. Last Friday two men were shot in front of the school just after noon. Students were on lockdown as the events played out. One man was killed another shot as he ran. No students were injured, but the violence was close.

"It is a community crisis. Call the governor's office. This is a matter that requires a real intervention," said Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rainbow P.U.S.H.

"We implore the community to take a greater stand against that affects these children and all Chicagoans," said Michael Scott, Chicago Public Schools Board President.

"We're very cognizant about the security needs. We've been advocating for better security coverage, better police coverage in and around the building for over a year," said Principal Michael Alexander, DuSable Leadership Academy.

The principal of DuSable Leadership Academy would like the neighborhood to get attention before the shootings- not just after the violence.

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