CPS parents protest Chicago school closings

March 22, 2013 4:27:08 PM PDT
Yolanda Harris wants Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett to visit Dumas Elementary, one of the 54 CPS schools slated to close.

DOCUMENT: List of 54 schools to close

"I want her to come and visit Dumas. I challenge her to come. Come on out, you're making a big mistake," Harris said.

Harris and other parents of students at Dumas Elementary School, located at 6650 South Ellis Ave., are rallying in support of their school and the teachers who will lose their jobs. Dumas was labeled one of the "underperforming schools" by CPS.

"I do want to fight. It's a lot. I don't want to just give in. We definitely should fight," Tanyana Donaldson, mom, said.

"I was shocked, because I didn't think the school would be closing because of all the technology we have," sixth-grader Taylor Butler said.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Byrd-Bennett say the closures are necessary because too many buildings are half-empty. They say money being spent to keep underused schools open could be better used to educate students elsewhere as the district deals with a $1 billion budget deficit.

Under the CPS plan, Dumas will close, and its students will merge with Wadsworth Elementary to create one school. That one school, which will be called Wadsworth, will be housed at the current Dumas building.

That means teachers and staff at Dumas are out.

"I just want to cry. I've been here four years. I love every one of these kids as if they're my own," Stacie Beach, counselor/case manager at Dumas, said.

A CPS spokesperson said staff of closed schools will be placed in a pool and potentially moved to other locations. Yolanda Harris, who has four children at Dumas, wants Byrd-Bennett to visit Dumas.

"I want her to come and visit Dumas. I want her to see the staff. I want her to see the staff with the children. That is what I want her to do," Yolanda Harris, parent, said.

CPS plans to hold public hearings in the next few months.