CPS To Open “New” Dyett High School in 2016

Following protests and a hunger strike, Chicago Public Schools announced Thursday that a "new" Dyett High School will open in the fall of 2016 as an open-enrollment neighborhood high school.

"Ultimately, the goal was to do what was right for the children, that's the fundamental answer," CPS chief Forrest Claypool said at a press conference.

Claypool said the school, located in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood, will reopen as an "arts-focused neighborhood high school and community innovation lab."

“Working with community partners, we arrived at a solution that meets multiple needs," Claypool said, "creating an open enrollment neighborhood high school, producing an enrollment stream that can weather population changes, filling the critical demand for an arts high school on the south side and working with education leaders to create a technology hub.”

CPS said the arts program and increased technology were recommended by the Bronzeville Community Action Council as part of the 2013 CPS Educational Facilities Master Plan.

The school will serve 550 students when it is fully enrolled, and neighborhood residents will get the opportunity to enroll first.

“Walter H. Dyett has a storied history of serving students and the community of Bronzeville, and this new neighborhood arts program and community center will continue this proud tradition and ensure a bright future for the children and families of Bronzeville,” said Frank Clark, president of the Chicago Board of Education.

The announcement comes a day after Mayor Rahm Emanuel was escorted off the stage at a budget forum as protesters trying to save the South Side high school from closing rushed the stage.

The budget hearing was the second of three forums slated to allow the public to weigh in on the city’s current financial crisis.

Hundreds attended the meeting at the South Shore Cultural Center, which went on for about an hour before the disruption.

Supporters for Dyett High School in Washington Park began asking the mayor about his plans for the school, reminding him that several people are currently on a hunger strike, pushing for a new building instead of a closed one. 

At one point, one protester is seen jumping on the stage and waving a sign in front of Emanuel’s face.

Security stood between Emanuel and the protesters as more joined on the stage. Eventually, Emanuel was taken offstage by security and police and the meeting ultimately ended early.

“It is unfortunate that everyone's voice could not be heard tonight after some attendees disrupted the forum, causing it to end early,” Kelley Quinn, a spokesperson for Emanuel, said in a statement. “The moderator and the Mayor made a number of attempts to restart and finish the forum, and offered to meet with demonstrators tonight, however those attempts were unsuccessful. We are committed to this process, and to ensuring residents have a voice in this budget, and we are looking forward to the final budget forum tomorrow evening."

Earlier this week, Dyett supporters attended the mayor’s first budget meeting, forcing a second, private meeting with Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool and Emanuel.

Claypool said the fate of Dyett High School is still under discussion.

A third and final budget meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Wright College. Residents can voice their ideas at the town hall meeting or via social media using the hashtag #ChiBudget2016.

Emanuel will present the 2016 budget to City Council on Sept. 22. 

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