Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Without Warning, School for Problem Kids Pops Up in Chatham

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Many residents in Chicago's Chatham neighborhood are dismayed that the Chicago Public Schools, lead by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's new schools CEO, has put students with disciplinary records in their area without warning.

Even Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) said he was unaware that the Richard Milburn School had moved into St. Clotilde Church, in the 8400 block of South Calumet Avenue, until residents started complaining.

"If you come in under the darkness of night, you're going to have suspicions until your reservations are finally quelled," he said.

There are 45 students in grades six through 12 enrolled at Milburn, many of whom who have been suspended long-term for disciplinary reasons. Despite the small student body, the staff includes three security officers.

The lease at St. Clotilde is between Richard Milburn High Schools and the Archdiocese. CPS contracts with Richard Milburn High Schools to operate the school program, which had to relocate on short notice, according to a CPS spokeswoman, due to "unsafe conditions in the school's prior facility."

Representatives at CPS and the Chicago Archdiocese told NBC Chicago that so far it's been problem free at the school. Still, Sawyer said the school's presence has prompted several calls of complaint, including about 10 calls, he figured, from former Illinois Sen. Roland Burris and his wife.

"He's a citizen and a neighbor. He lives on the next block over," said Sawyer. "He was concerned about children going through the neighborhoods because we've had spikes in crime over here lately."

CPS said that since opening, the principal at Milburn has met with community leaders and intends to "make herself available to address any community concerns."

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