Officials with the Chicago Teachers Union say a recent order for Chicago firefighters to provide Safe Passage is an admission the city's school closure plan hasn't been well thought out.
The city is scrambling, the last minute, the 11th hour, saying, 'OK, we're going to put in police, we're going to put in extra Safe Passage, we're going to put in extra firefighters.' Is it going to be the military next?" Staff Coordinator Jackson Potter said Tuesday.
In a memo issued last week, Chicago firefighters were quietly ordered to join in staffing so-called Safe Passage routes beginning on the first day of school August 26. Their presence would continue for the first three weeks of the school year.
The Safe Passage program is designed to provide students with added security and a protected path for their walks to and from school. For weeks, parents and community activists have rallied against the Chicago Public Schools' anticipated closure of more than 50 schools, arguing that students will need to cross potentially dangerous gang boundaries in order to get to class.
CPS says city agencies -- including the fire department -- are just doing their part to protect students, but some CPS parents don't see it that way.
"They're supposed to be put out fires. So while they're Safe Passaging the kids and there's a fire, which one do you think they're going to do?" said parent Jeanette Taylor. "Does that make sense?"