by PRCC staff
On Monday, July 27, the Roberto Clemente Community Academy Local School Council (LSC) voted 9-1 in favor of removing the School Resource Officers (SRO) from Roberto Clemente High School, effective immediately. The vote came after a non-binding vote and two community forums; it was informed by the growing demand across the country to redefine policing, particularly in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, as well as the LSC’s deep and ongoing commitment to build a community-centric school. This development traces its roots to the 90s with the design and implementation of a 4 Point Plan, arising from the ideas of restorative justice, as well as community, staff, faculty ownership, and engagement. Thus this is truly a step toward the re-claiming of the school by the students, teachers, parents, and the community in their quest to build a safe and inviting place to explore the world.
Moving forward, the LSC will:
• Strengthen the existing Community as a Campus (CAAC) Safety Committee. While this step includes the area’s community beat police officer, that officer’s primary responsibility will be to work with the students, and create solutions to endemic problems — solutions that are rooted in justice, empathy, and an authentic will to problem solve — not to impose “order” through power, which only conceals a fire that, unresolved, would continue to rage. The goal is to elevate our youth, to continually honor their dignity while working through problems and monitoring the grounds in and around the school— to nurture a safe, inviting, and non-violent atmosphere.
• Create a Parent Committee of the LSC, which will be an integral part of the Safety Committee.
• Commit itself to initiate after-school jobs and programs for the most at-risk youth and work with CPS to invest the savings of the SRO budget as seed money that we can grow with the private sector and philanthropy to provide internships and/or part-time jobs year round for the most marginalized students at Clemente.
• Designate a task force to work with the Community as a Campus initiative to transform Clemente into the high school hub of the 17-schools’ project — including strengthening the existing relationships with dual- enrollment programs (UIC and NEIU), as well as the intramural sports programs with the elementary schools, etc.
• Work to strengthen the Restorative Justice Program at Clemente with a vision that will integrate mindfulness practices as the youth grapple with their historical and generational trauma.
We share that responsibility and demand that CPS, along with the LSC, invest resources to make this work. We must look at problems here in a different way — to develop a sense of collective responsibility, and encourage self-discipline in our students. Clemente can be a great school, not just a good school. Each and every one of us — students, teachers, parents, and community can and should make a difference so that Clemente lives up to its promise to be a safe and inviting place to explore the world.