June 17 shooting near Taylor school challenges (among other things) concept of “Safe Passage” for school workers... Bullet whizzes through teacher's car on 'Safe Passage' route to mark the end of the school year... CPS stays it doesn't have to pay for repairs

Police car (blue light) down the street from Taylor school after the shooting. Substance photo by Susan Zupan.Though not intentionally aimed at any Chicago Public Schools employees, the particular bullet that went through the teacher’s opened, back, driver’s side window, over her head, and out the front windshield did not make any news reports in Chicago, except for this (late) Substance report...

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 was the last official work day for CPS teachers. The previous Friday, June 13 was the last official school day for CPS students for the 2013-2014 school year.

On Tuesday, June 17, while teachers and staff were still at work at Douglas Taylor Elementary School, two days into the students’ summer vacation, gunfire erupted at 98th and Avenue J, less than one block from the school located at 9912 S. Avenue H on the far South East Side of Chicago. The shooting took place exactly as one teacher happened to be driving back to the school from going out for lunch.

Chicago Tribune’s Breaking News reported the following on June 18, 2014: "Someone shot a 25-year old man in the chest during a possible drive-by at 12:19 p.m. in the 9800 block of South Avenue J, in the East Side neighborhood," said Chicago Police Department News Affairs Officer Veejay Zala. "Chicago Fire Department officials said the victim was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn in critical condition."

Chicago Police Media Affairs reported one week later (06-24-14) via a phone inquiry that the incident which occurred in Area South was still under investigation; the 25-year old who was shot in the chest and taken to Advocate Christ Medical in critical condition was a male Hispanic. The Chicago Tribune reported the following information on 06-29-14: "Arrested on June 26, there was no bail for Sergio Garcia, from Whiting, Indiana, who was charged with aggravated battery and attempted first degree murder in connection with the East Side shooting at two men on June 17. The 25-year old was still hospitalized; a 20-year old was not injured. Both shots came from a light-colored sedan."

Substance is reporting the following additional information regarding this shooting incident on June 17: The CPS teacher was slowing down for a Stop sign while driving east on 98th Street, something that is on a daily basis mundane and routine for going to-and-fro around the school on one of many surrounding one-way streets. On this day, however, the door of another vehicle very nearby opened, and one person jumped out and began shooting at a group of young people on the corner.

From the blur of the next moments, the teacher recalled, “There was a young child on the corner, and the mother was screaming.” The teacher added: “I floored the gas and tried to get away as quickly as possible. I heard the bullet hit the window after about 5 to 10 seconds of shooting.”

She drove to the school to get help and inform everyone else about what had happened. The assistant principal, in charge of the school that day, was also returning to the school in his car, farther behind the teacher. From that perspective the group of young people was seen to be “running for their lives.”

The police arrived shortly after that to the school, quickly assessing what had happened/was happening.

In the course of the day, faculty and staff would hear many differing accounts through various grapevines of what was happening/had happened, including, apparently incorrect, that someone was shot dead in the alley. The experience for the CPS employees of the school, in particular the teacher whose head was missed by a bullet by inches, was harrowing and horrifying. And consider that this is what many CPS students are relatively used to experiencing on an almost if not daily basis, the next block over from their schools or not.

The area in the next block north of Taylor School, including the alley, from which a few lots down off Avenue H extends the official overflow parking lot for CPS employees, was cordoned off the rest of the afternoon by CPD for investigation. Following the shooting, the school was put on lockdown status; those who were still out for lunch, a majority of the faculty and staff on this particular day without students, were contacted and instructed to remain away from the building until the surrounding conditions stabilized.

Taylor School has a middle school annex located on the mid-north and east part of the block of 9900 Avenue J. Teachers in the middle school building for the past two years have been directed by the administration to keep all their shades pulled down as per CPS policy regarding safety and security. At the same time, however, the middle school students continue to have outdoor recess, weather permitting, on the playground located right at the corner of Avenue J and 99th Street.

Answers to teachers’ repeated questions and concerns regarding these working conditions are not often forthcoming or what might appear to be logical. Perhaps after this incident, such conditions might be revisited and/or elaborated upon. Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “longer school day” (LSD) for elementary schools was created in part from moving an end-of-day 45 minutes that was previously considered the faculty’s “lunch period” (in which teachers could opt to remain at or exit work) into the middle of the school day.

During contract negotiations, it was touted that teachers could now leave their buildings and go out for lunch, and many do so.

However, questions need to be asked regarding the system-wide “equity” in this as with many such contractual work conditions. “Lunch breaks” in some neighborhoods are not exactly the same as “lunch breaks” in others, although any such thing can happen anywhere at any time. But then again, what is the worth of the word “equity” regarding anything in CPS re a multitude of concerns? economics/poverty? neighborhood crime statistics? resources? school libraries? student readiness to learn, considering all of this? community input? teacher/staff input? These issues are connected to a report of one bullet barely missing one teacher’s head. There are also questions to be asked regarding “coverage” for CPS employees if/when something like this occurs “during your lunch break.”

The teacher in this case was informed that there was no coverage or responsibility by CPS for the $300 she needed to pay to replace her windshield. CPS employees need to ponder what other lack of coverage or responsibility the Board of Education might claim if/when something even more unthinkable occurs during “lunch breaks” or other times in which they are out of the schools but basically still under the surrounding work conditions of being employees of CPS as well as citizens of Chicago. (Or godforbid in the schools.)

The above subject matter will no doubt continue to be part of some CPS students’ compositions variably-entitled, “What I experienced on my summer vacation.” The “unthinkable” is what too many of our students are living with, in their days-in-the-lives of Chiraq. [Disclosure: The reporter is a faculty member of the school at which this occurred but is not the teacher whose experience is related in this report.]


July 3, 2014 at 9:12 AM

By: John Kugler

Movie set Mayor

the city is now one of the most secretive governments who manipulate data in such a way that is dangerous to every citizen. When officials willfully do not tell the truth or twist the facts that lead to someone getting hurt or dies those officials need to be held accountable for those harms.

everyday we see the harm and death in the streets yet we are told the city is safe. Maybe my eyes are wrong!

July 7, 2014 at 1:26 AM

By: Susan Zupan

Something is seriously wrong in Chicago...

John, the plain statistics are shocking:

In the first half of 2014 (January 1 thru June 30), Chicago (population: less than 3 million) had 1,103 shootings*; New York (population: more than 8 million) had 507 shootings; and Los Angeles (population: more than 10 million) had 390 shootings. [*All shooting data from the Chicago Tribune.]

Re CPS: On 07-03-14 the Chicago Tribune reported that on 07-02-14 Attorney General Eric Holder participated in a "round-table-style meeting" with Rahm Emanuel at Chicago Police headquarters. He was quoted as applauding the "really amazing reductions in the kinds of negative behaviors and negative outcomes" regarding Chicago elementary and high school students.

(Plus, don't ya just luv the oxymoronic use of any "round tableness" for these top-down, reverse-Robin Hood schemers?)

CTU's response to this, particularly regarding what is reported versus what is actually happening in the schools, could not have included two more perfect words: "serious disconnect."

FYI: On 07-02-14, the day after this report was posted in Substance, I received a phone call from my school's principal informing me that my position was abruptly changing (from that of a 7th and 8th grade teacher) to that of a 1st grade teacher. This follows a year in which I filed grievances for myself and as CTU delegate. Note: I have not in 25-plus years of teaching in CPS taught nor sought to teach at the 1st grade level.

I share this because we all know that such information about an abrupt and drastic teaching position change like this will make everyone in the Chicago Public Schools think: Wow, I think, if I still even have a job at all, that I'll report things on-the-record and/or try to seek remedy for local problems that were not resolved via the contractual grievance process!

This is how it works in Chicagoland, USAland.

July 7, 2014 at 2:17 AM

By: john kugler

Retaliation & Article 40

seems like retaliation for union activity (ULP) and violations of article 40 teacher programming

Article 40–1. Programming Considerations. The principal, in programming a teacher, shall...(4) in elementary schools, ability and qualifications being equal, program teachers for the grade level at which they have the most experience, except that any teacher may request a change in grade level assignment. (p 147)

Article 40–8. Justification for Pedagogic Change. In the event a teacher is programmed to teach a grade level (e.g., early childhood, primary, middle or upper elementary grades) or content area that he or she has not taught in the last four school years, upon request of the teacher, the principal shall explain why the change was made and, upon the request of the teacher, work with the teacher to develop a relevant professional development plan for the teacher. (p 148)

July 9, 2014 at 3:01 PM

By: Jean Schwab

CPS support of school violence?

The assumption is that CPS is at this moment making a policy that will keep staff and children safe and by reporting this incident Susan is giving CPS information to back up a new policy. Unfortunately, CPS is using time and energy to cover it up and make it so that no other employee will report any of this again.

March 15, 2015 at 5:04 AM

By: Ashley Mateos

Shooting? Ms. Zupan a good teacher...

I know Ms. Zupan from Taylor. A good teacher.

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