Every day in the inner city, it’s a struggle for parents to keep their children safe. So when parents and teachers saw some videos from a local rapper who performed at their school, they were very concerned.
Parents and teachers at Beasley Elementary on the south side didn’t know what to think when a rapper, who wrote a song for their school, turned up on you tube smoking pot and shooting guns. Further investigation found the rapper is the principal’s fiancé– raising all sorts of other questions.
And the kids were thrilled! A local rap star named J.O. was singing at their school! Tiffaney Boxley’s fifth grader was no exception. He couldn’t wait to tell her.
In 2011, J.O. and two other rappers wrote a song for the school called “We Can Do It.” The song was about education and reaching your potential. They made a video for it that you can find on YouTube. At first, Tiffaney thought it was encouraging. But when she looked at other J.O. videos, she was outraged by what she found– and what her 5th grade son could also find.
J.O. sings about marijuana, guns, violence, bling, and sex. The videos are filled with profanity.
The local school council approved $4,000 to pay future boy music group for the school song. Principal Kim Brasfield said it would be a morale booster. What most LSC members didn’t know at the time, and what Brasfield didn’t tell them, was the principal is engaged to J.O. and they have two children together who go to Beasley. J.O., whose real name is Joey Carpenter, is listed in a work order as one of the writers of the song, although he says he never got paid.
He sent a notarized fax dated just three days ago. J.O. said he just wanted to do something positive for the kids.
Kim Brasfield is a second year principal who, in 2005, won the golden apple award as a reading teacher.
There is also video of Brasfield dancing in the school song video. She’s been principal at Beasley since 2011 and getting a school song made was one of the first things she tried to do.
Laura Thompson is a former teacher at Beasley, who was not hired after her probationary period. She says the school used to have a partnership with the symphony orchestra and it had an exceptional dance group, dissolved now because of lack of funds. She’s concerned about the students being exposed to this kind of “art.”
The $4,000 for the song came out of the school’s 2011 internal account, the money raised for it through fundraising. It’s the school’s safety net. It had $100,000 in it when principal Brasfield got there. At the last LSC meeting she reported there was only $14,000 left– that’s $10 per student fort the rest of the school year.
So programs were cut, like the before school program. But just last week a sponsor came forward to pay for it. The school’s on line reading program raz-kids has been cut. Beasley academic center was one of the top schools in the city but now they are a level two school. All of this plus dropping test scores, fourth grade reading, for example is down 16%, has parents and teachers frustrated.
When WGN tried to talk to Kim Brasfield and the Chicago Public School District but neither wanted to talk about the story right now. The Chicago Public School District did release a statement reading in part: “CPS is looking into these allegations.”
The Beasley local school council is also looking for answers. According to a source an audit will be requested at the next public meeting on February 19th.