12 students enrolled in final year at Dyett High School

Tuesday, September 2, 2014
12 students at Dyett HS
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Twelve seniors attended the first day of the last year at Dyett High School.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Twelve seniors attended the first day of the last year at Dyett High School.

After years of declining enrollment, Dyett will close its doors for good this spring, CPS says. Most of the Class of 2015's seniors transferred to other schools, but some wanted to stay.

"Because I want to have the opportunity to go to the school I've been going to, and I'm not gonna let them take our school away from us," one senior said.

There are three teachers at Dyett, and one principal.

"Dyett is a school that has been, unfortunately, sabotaged," Chicago Teachers' Union President Karen Lewis said.

Activists who fought to keep Dyett open say Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has deliberately drained resources and coerced students to go elsewhere. CPS says it's merely pointed out to those who've chosen to stay that their senior experience will not be a typical one.

"I like to play sports, but we've got no sports teams. But I'm sacrificing that because I still want to be here," Daniel Carter, Dyett senior, said.

No sports, no clubs, no all-school assemblies. There are classes in English and Spanish and an elective science. Others are taken online.

"I was in the lunch room," a delivery driver said. No students in sight. "Just the manager."

The deliveries still come. The lights must be turned on. Security officers are still assigned, and no matter how few students or teachers, it is not inexpensive to keep the building operational.

"We pay taxes. We have the right to have a quality world class school in our neighborhood," Jitu Brown, Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization, said.

The activists say they will keep fighting to keep the school open. Kenneth Brown, one of the 12 remaining students, gave mixed reviews to a most unusual first day.

"There's nothing wrong with the teachers. The teachers are great. I like the classes with the teachers, but the classes just on computer, it's not what it should be at all," Brown said.

Dyett has a budget of just more than $1 million for the 2014-15 school year. CPS intends to keep the school operating until the end of the school year as initially planned.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett said in a written statement that CPS supports students' decision to stay at Dyett and will "provide them the education needed to ensure they graduate prepared for the future."