Story Summary

Chicagoland students head back to school

The summer has come and gone for Chicago area students.

CPS students head back on Monday August 26th.  Classes will resume at Chicago Public Schools for the first time since the school board voted to close and consolidate 50 programs in the city.

Students in the suburbs have their varying first days.

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Nearly all of Chicago’s school Safe Passage routes have registered sex offenders living nearby.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports 48 of 53 Safe Passage routes have sex offenders living along the route or less than a block away.  Five routes have 10 or more sex offenders living nearby.

Chicago police say officers visited every registered sex offender living near a route last Spring to make sure they were in compliance with the law.

CPS officials say they’re monitoring the routes and are ready to make changes as needed.

48 of 53 Safe Passage routes at schools that took in children from closed schools have sex offenders registered along them or within 1/8 mile &mdash

Yesterday the test and today was the grade.

On Monday Chicago Public School students headed back to class for the first time since the massive shut down underperforming or underutilized schools in the city. 12,000 kids found their way to new schools that could lead them through dangerous neighborhoods.

Today the mayor talks for the first time about how safe the streets of Chicago are for those students.

Mayor Emanuel indicates the upwards of $12 million dollars were spent to walk and watch the kids as they go to class is money well spent. He says the program is working.

The program expanded this year with high expectations after teacher layoffs, budget cuts and last fall’s seven day teacher strike. After all that, the mayor needed a home run on opening day. With no incidents to report, Emanuel still appears cautiously optimistic that with the help of fireman, policemen, 600 neon vested workers and plenty of bright signage, the kids will be better off and the criminal have been adequately warned.

“I want our kids to think about their studies not their safety,” Emanuel said.

While he won’t say by how much, the mayor says school attendance was at a near record high Monday. He thinks assistance from the “Safe Passage” program may have had something to do with that. Homicide rates haven’t been this low since 1965 and overall crime is down, too.

While it’s all good news, but not a time, he claims, to become complacent.

A protest is scheduled for Wednesday with some parents planning to pull their kids out of class in order to protest budget cuts, layoffs and more at CPS.

Emanuel says this is a matter for the courts and the kids shouldn’t be sacrificed and used for political purposes.

The first day of school has come and gone in Chicago, but the complaints remain. Layoffs, budget cuts and safety concerns are still top of mind at schools around the city.

53 new “Safe Passage” routes were added and brought the total to 92.  But that is still not enough protestors claim.

At Cather Elementary this afternoon, a visit from Mayor Rahm Emaneul was not enough to appease a protestors on a steamy first day of school.


Lamyah Jones high-fives a Safe Passage worker as her mother, Tatiana Kimble, left, walks with son Marquise Johnson to Laura S. Ward Elementary School in the West Garfield Park neighborhood.
( Alex Garcia, Chicago Tribune / August 26, 2013 )

They worry that 12,000 affected children finding their way to  and from new schools, as dictated by the district, could be dangerous. Chicago’s police superintendent Garry McCarthy reminded the public that the city has its lowest murder rate since 1965. Shootings or potential crimes near “Safe Passage” routes –like a body found in an Englewood trash can this morning, just a half block from a “Safe Passage” zone–should not influence the success or failure of the overall plan.  The yellow vested city service workers, 600 paid new hires, and parents walking these routes will make the difference, he says.

“This is true community policing,” McCarthy said.  “In and out of school.”

Parents with questions, comments, or suggestions related to Safe Passage or any CPS matter can call 773-553-3223.

Chicago Public Schools students will file into their classrooms for the first day of school Monday morning.

And for many of those children, the new school year comes with big changes.

About 12,000 students were displaced after 47 CPS schools were closed.

CPS worked to ease the change and keep students safe.

Parents will be able to identify designated Safe Passage routes that are monitored by hundreds of workers in bright colored vests.

The district hopes these workers will safely navigate students through gang territories and to their new schools.

Some schools will also have smaller staffs after 3,000 layoffs over the summer.

The district is set to counter that with hiring 1,000 teachers.

A significant police presence was reported to be out along Safe Passage routes Monday morning.

The routes were set up to make sure kids get to school safely.

The police presence comes after a man was shot in the neck Sunday night along a route in the 1400 block of South Tripp.

A 14-year-old boy was shot and killed along another route in the West Garfield Park neighborhood Friday.

After closing 47 schools in May, CPS officials added 53 new safe passage routes, and 600 new workers to cover them.

But critics said it’s only a band-aid approach to the problem.

“We have Safe Passage signs all over, but stuff still goes on,” Renee Carter told the Chicago Tribune. “I wouldn’t walk here for anything.”

Carter said she used to walk her daughter to Pope Elementary, which closed and sent its students to Johnson, “but here we have to cross a main street and these two streets close by are really known for drugs and trouble.”

She said she is still deciding whether or not to keep her honor roll student enrolled. “I don’t think so.”

Mayor Emanuel said the safe passage program is an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ scenario, where every adult in Chicago should help out.

Meanwhile, an advocate group has set up a hotline for concerned parents. The School Closings Accountability line is sponsored by an organization called Parents 4 Teachers. Parents who encounter lack of resources, safety issues and other problems are asked to call a hotline number: 773-916-P4T4

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is greeting students, parents and teachers  at various schools Monday.

His first stop was at Carl Von Linne Elementary School in Avondale, before heading to the South Side to walk a Safe Passage route with children.

CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett talks to WGN on the first day that students head back to school.

The past year has been a tumultuous one for Chicago Public Schools with the teachers strike, budget cuts, layoffs and the contentious battle over school closing.  As students are preparing for the first day all eyes are on the plan to keep them safe.

The new school year brings dramatic changes for CPS.

47 schools closed mostly on the south and west sides more than 12,000 students displaced.

To help ease the transition for the displaced students, CPS designated Safe Passage routes that will be monitored by hundreds of workers who completed background checks and two days of training.

The workers will report to their assigned schools in bright colored vests bright and early Monday morning.

And despite reports of recent shootings along safe passage routes, the hope is  these workers will help deter crime during school hours as some kids navigate gang territories to get to their new schools.

The buzz for the first day of school built throughout Sunday around Chicago.

A White House official joined the Black Star Project at Drake Elementary encouraging fathers to take their children to school.

Free haircuts, hair styles and school supplies were provided at several Chicago locations to help kids look their best as they get back to work.

The entire district is back on one schedule and is back tomorrow except for charter schools.

Chicago Public Schools begin class come Monday  and come Wednesday, community activists are calling for a one-day boycott for what they say are discriminatory practices against low-income students of color.

The activists gathered at city hall today and say instead of going to school, students and parents should attend a rally at CPS headquarters where the school board will be meeting.

It’s all because of the closing of 50-public schools, mostly on the west and south sides.

CPS released a statement saying in part, “We can’t cut our way out of this crisis and need meaningful pension reform. … On Wednesday, we hope all CPS students will be in their classroom.”

As the countdown to the start of school continues, children on the South Side received backpacks today in honor and memory of a fellow student.

Cleo and Anthony Pendleton established the foundation in their daughter’s name after the 15-year old honor student was gunned-down last January while standing with friends in a South Side park.

After Hadiya’s death, it took a while for her parents to heal to the point where they could move on. And one of the first things they did was establish a foundation to be able to give back to the community in the name of Hadiya.

Hadiya death became a national story when she was an innocent bystander who killed by gang members who thought she was standing with rival gang members – she was not.

Just weeks before, Hadiya had marched in the inauguration parade for President Obama.

CaptureHer senseless death magnified the gang problem in Chicago and First Lady Michelle Obama, Governor Pat Quinn and Mayor Emanuel all attended her funeral. A reward of 40,000 dollars was raised and tips from the public poured into police and two suspects were eventually arrested and charged.

Now her parents are focusing on neighborhood children hoping to catch them before they go astray and leave another family with nothing more than a picture of a loved one.