Lake View High School keeps school police, but plans to revisit the issue when in-person classes resume

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LAKEVIEW — The local school board at Lake View High School voted Thursday to keep police officers on campus, but principals want to review the curriculum before students return to in-person classes.

The 9-1 vote came a day before Chicago Public Schools set a deadline for local city councils to decide whether to keep police on their campuses.

The school, 4015 N. Ashland Ave., has an officer but plans to hire another, principal Paul Karafiol said.

Citing student concerns about the program, Lake View council members said they want Karafiol to use the first term of the school year, when all learning will be online, to develop a structured plan for school resource officers.

Council members said they would reverse their decision before the students returned to the building.

A survey of 125 students showed that about 80% of students who responded had never interacted with the school resource officer or did not know her name. Almost 60% of respondents thought the district should end the program.

Lake View accommodates approximately 1,400 students.

Rising elder Bruna Cambron said the officer’s presence is only felt when “something is happening”.

When something happens, “her presence and the presence of other cops is felt more strongly, and it’s kind of scary,” Cambron said. “It’s kind of pointless for her to be there if it only kicks in when ‘something bad happens.’

Karafiol said the school resource officer is a buffer between students and other police officers who are called to the school if there is a problem.

“When external [police come] in the school, it’s a bit random, and sometimes it goes well for the students and sometimes it goes really bad,” said Karafiol. “…When our [officer] is involved, they tend to get…much, much better.

A district official attending the meeting confirmed that the school council would be able to hold another vote after the start of the school year.

“We should take this opportunity to see if we can meet these challenges before eliminating this position altogether,” said board chairman Flo Powdermaker.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS CEO Janice Jackson have resisted calls to remove resource officers, insisting the decision should be left to local school boards. The district has given councils until Friday to make a decision.

The majority of schools chose to keep the agents in place.

In June, the Chicago Board of Education narrowly rejected a proposal to terminate the district’s contract with the police department.

The district on Monday announced plans to cut its school policing program by more than half in the next fiscal year by eliminating payment for officers on days they don’t serve in schools and no longer paying mobile patrollers.

The budget proposal — as part of a broader $8.4 billion spending plan unveiled Monday by the district — is the first indication of how the district will modify its school policing contract for next year, with COVID-19 dramatically changing the landscape of schools alongside increased spotlighting of the cost of school policing.

The school board is expected to vote on the reduced contract with the Chicago police on August 26.

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