A Chicago Public Schools official defended the district’s plans to provide security for children moving to new schools this August, which should prevent the type of violence that resulted in the highly publicized beating death of Derrion Albert four years ago, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Albert was killed as a result of tensions at Fenger High School between students who came from different neighborhoods. The new school closings (49 elementary schools and one high school program will be closed) have been criticized – some point to the Albert tragedy as a cautionary tale of what can happen when students have to traverse communities with rival gang boundaries, the article reports.
Jadine Chou, the district’s chief safety and security officer, says that the district has the right plans in place to prevent a repeat attack, citing consultations with area parents on Safe Passage walking routes to new schools. She also said that the city is working with businesses along those routes to serve as safe havens should a child need help.
Chou’s comments came on the third day of hearings on two federal lawsuits attempting to block the school closings. The suits, backed by the Chicago Teachers Union and filed on behalf of parents, allege that the closing unfairly affect special-needs children and African-American students. On Wednesday, a Chicago gang expert also criticized the district’s plan for putting children “in the line of fire” between warring gangs that have established conflicts in certain neighborhoods, the Tribune reports.