CHICAGO — Students at Lincoln Park High School protested once more, this time after an interim administrator at the school stepped down after a video captured her grabbing a student’s face.
Retired Chicago Public Schools Principal Judith Gibbs grabbed the student Tuesday, when he pulled his ID out of her reach.
Gibbs started filling in at the school last week after two administrators were fired after allegations of misconduct by both adults and students at the school.
A letter to parents said Gibbs stepped down because she decided she was “not a good fit.”
Students on Thursday morning staged a sit-in at the school where several hundred students took part — their anger aimed at Chicago Public Schools leaders. Some signs read, “Reformation of the administration,” and “Why lie to us?” There were several posters asking if their schools were safe. The protest spilled outside the building.
One student, Jovani Munoz, said he was the student seen on the video when the interim administrator grabbed his face. He said the incident was disappointing.
CPS is conducting several internal investigations and said it was made aware of systemic school-wide issues regarding misconduct and sports violations.
The varsity boys basketball team was forced to withdraw from the post season tournament. Lincoln Park High School principal John Thuet and assistant principal Michelle Brumfield were removed.
“I just believe that the principal and assistant principal had a very big impact on the school and that while they were here, things were going in the right direction,” Sterling Mathis, a student, said.
“When Thuet and Brumfield were in school the hallways were super happy and you could feel the energy that everyone’s excited to be at school. now everyone’s heads are down,” Ella Wong, a student, said.
Also Thursday, kids were fighting in the hallways and security tried to intervene. Chicago police and fire were on site, and at least one student was injured.
“It was like a few people fighting and then security just tackled everyone,” Abbie Lederer, a student, said.
Some parents took their kids out of school.
CPS sent the following letter to students and families Thursday:
Dear Lincoln Park HS Students, Families, and Staff,
We understand that there have been a number of questions about the events that took place today, and we would like to provide you with an update.
Earlier today, Lincoln Park HS students led a sit-in and walk-out that was generally peaceful. With the support of the Office of Safety and Security and the Chicago Police Department (CPD), school staff followed protocols and ensured the safety of our students. Students involved with the protest were also able to speak directly to school and network leadership about their thoughts and concerns. They showed maturity and were respectful of the staff and safety of their peers.
While the student action was generally peaceful, there were a small number of altercations among students inside our school building that you may have seen reported. While the images may be troubling, no students or staff were seriously injured as a result of this incident, and we are handling the situation in accordance with CPS policy. The parents of the impacted students have also been made aware.
There were also two issues requiring medical attention earlier today that were not directly related to the student action—one person was taken to the hospital after slipping on water, and another person for a pre-existing medical condition. Both are reported to be in good condition.
Finally, we were made aware of rumors involving gang activity in the vicinity of the school after dismissal. Out of an abundance of caution, we had additional CPD and security presence at the school and dismissal took place without incident.
In the coming week, we will continue to work with the school, parents, and student leaders to support and heal the community. We are incorporating valuable feedback that we received from staff, students, and parents into a plan to better support the school. Among the immediate steps being taken, we are planning the following:
- Beginning tomorrow, the school’s Administrators-in-Charge, Ms .Jerrilyn Jones and Mr. Calvin Davis will visit every classroom to spend time with students and hear their thoughts and concerns. These visits will continue next week until every class is visited.
- Additional staff from the district’s Offices of Social Emotional Learning (OSEL) and Safety and Security will be in the building to continue to promote a calm and supportive environment for students and staff.
- Tomorrow morning, one of the district’s SEL specialists will be at the school to provide staff with a workshop on how to utilize a talking circle in their classrooms at the beginning of the day. We are committed to providing students with safe and healthy tools to express themselves during this difficult time, and talking circles will help support that effort.
- Students who express a need for additional support will be assisted by a new internal referral process to ensure they are linked with appropriate resources.
- OSEL staff will lead discussion groups for students who wish to share additional thoughts on opportunities to promote healing in our school community.
- We have set up a special hotline and email for the LPHS community. If a student wishes to speak to a member of the Office of Student Protections and Title IX, please call 773-535-8523 or email OSPsupport@cps.edu.
We are working very hard to ensure that your child has an environment where they can feel emotionally and physically safe. Thank you for your support and patience.
Bogdana Chkoumbova Jadine Chou
Chief Schools Officer Chief of Safety and Security
Chicago Public Schools Chicago Public Schools