Parents occupy school to protest 'turnaround'

February 18, 2012 9:00:08 AM PST
As many as 100 parents, students and activists are camping out at an elementary school on the city's West Side in an attempt to get the mayor's attention and prevent the school from being overhauled.

The group is waking up inside the halls of Brian Piccolo Elementary School. They're protesting plans to "turnaround" the school, which, if approved, would lead to teachers and staff being replaced.

"We want to hear from the mayor," said Latoya Wells, a parent of a Piccolo student. "Hear us. We are taxpayers. We have a right. We have a say so. These are our kids."

"I disagree (with) what CPS says," said seventh-grader Larry Davis. "They're not failing us. It takes a process to fail a child."

Piccolo has been on academic probation for the last five years and in a statement, CPS said, "We need to make difficult, but necessary, decisions to boost student achievement throughout the district and put their needs before all else."

The protestors, who call themselves part of the "Piccolo Occupation, " want a meeting with the mayor and school board members to plead their case. "They are spending a lot of money to try to turn these schools around, but the data on school turnarounds does not show that there is any increase in scores," said teacher Nate Rasmussen. "The data is, you know, spotty, at best."