Parents and protesters who occupied a West Humbolt Park elementary school over the weekend are "guardedly optimistic" that education officials will make good on their promise to schedule a run-up meeting before a vote on the school's future next week.
Brian Piccolo Elementary Specialty School is one of ten schools which the Chicago Board of Education will be voting on whether to replace staff and hand over management to the privately run Academy for Urban School Leadership.
Protesters spent Friday night and Saturday occupying the school in opposition to the vote. By Saturday morning about 50 people had pitched tents in front of the school to join forces with the 13 who remained in the building.
"The protest and occupation to resist takeover by AUSL was led by a core group of committed Piccolo parents who were acting on behalf of 288 parents who had voted 'No' to the Turnaround of their school in January but were ignored by CPS," stated a press release from HammerHard MediaWorks on behalf of the protesters.
The occupation was staged to request a meeting with CPS to consider investing in the current staff and provide them with more resources instead, according to the release.
Despite being denied access to food and supplies, those remaining inside held their ground and were granted a meeting Saturday afternoon.
Board of Education Vice President Jesse Ruiz and Jamiko Rose, chief of family and community engagement for the Chicago Public Schools, met with the group to hear their concerns. Protesters were promised a meeting with CPS before Board of Education casts their votes if they agreed to end the occupation.
However, after the occupation ended, Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean Claude Brizard issued a statement.
"The fact is, Piccolo has been failing its students year after year, and it is our responsibility to do everything we can to give these students access to a higher quality education," Brizard said. "We have proposed an AUSL turnaround and we are confident in their ability to improve this school."
Chicago Board of Education will meet Wednesday, Feb. 22, to vote on whether to implement the proposed "turnaround."