Ryerson Elementary School Closing: Violence and Student Safety Concerns

Ryerson Elementary School C/O L.A. Times

Ryerson Elementary School Photo/ L.A. Times

As the date approaches for the 54 schools on the list of CPS schools closing this upcoming 2013-2014 school year, parents, teachers, students and communities at large prepare to take on the many changes that come with the closing of these schools.

Parents like those of Ryerson Elementary School, located in the Humboldt Park neighborhood on the northwest side of the city, who are fighting to try and keep their children’s schools open.

“I believe that several factors should be considered not just one or two criteria in determining whether or not a school should be closed down” said Marilyn Harper a parent and teacher at Ryerson Elementary School, during the CPS public hearing for Ryerson on Monday, April 30th.”Closing schools in mass numbers will only create anger, confusion, and disgust not only amongst teachers and students but throughout the community.”

A main concern voiced by many of the parents and faculty  affected by these closings is the safety aspect of the whole situation, given many  of the schools closing are located in high crime/ gang areas.

Safety was at the top of the list of topics addressed during the CPS public hearing for Ryerson on April 30th.

Concerned parents at Ryerson Elementary School, are particularly worried given their school closing involves a consolidation of two schools into one. The schools involved being Ryerson Elementary School and Laura Ward Elementary School.

Parents of Ryerson students, explained they are concerned that the influx of new students from Ward into the Ryerson building might cause tension and violence amongst the children. They demanded to know what precautions the city is taking to address the many safety issues that come with the massive closings.

Concerns which were addressed by CPS Deputy Chief of Schools for the Garfield/ Humboldt Elementary network Herald Johnson, who made it clear there were measures in place to ensure children’s safety during the transition.

Some of the measures outlined by Johnson included:

1) That the CPS office of Safety and Security or OSS would,

a) Review and update all school safety audits

  • Safety personnel allocation
  • School safety technology system – and make enhancements as appropriate

b) Be available to address specific safety concerns raised by students

c) Provide safety staff for students traveling to and from school

Measures, which Denissa Ramos, a parent at Ryerson says, “sound great on paper but might not be enough to combat the tension to come with the consolidation of the two schools.”

By combining both schools CPS Deputy Chief of Schools Johnson, says the city is looking to take full advantage of building capacity given that according to Johnson, “the building is currently being under-utilized and has plenty of room to house children from both schools.”

However, by doubling the population size housed within Ryerson, teachers at the school worry that many of that many of the services, programs and features of the school will be lost. Features such as “indoor recess”, “music rooms” and “art rooms” amongst many other things as pointed out by Torrence Shorter, vice president of Ryersons’s local school council in a recent DNAinfo story on the CPS School closings.


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