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Peabody victory bittersweet, but careful planning paid off

The last-minute "reprieve" (as some called it) for Peabody Elementary School and five other schools slated for closing or turnaround because of Chicago's controversial "Renaissance 2010" public school privatization plan was cause for celebration at Peabody. More than 50 students, parents, and friends of Peabody Elementary School joined the school's principal for what was supposed to be a protest candlelight vigil at 9:00 p.m. on the night of February 23, 2009. With the last-minute announcement that Peabody had been removed from the "Renaissance 2010" closing list, the event turned into a community celebration despite the cold night. None of the neighbors complained about the small amount of noise on the usually quiet public school grounds as the cold night became colder and the hour drew near 10:00 p.m. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The school, located at 1444 W. Augusta in Chicago, has been a community institution for generations, but even while celebrating Peabody's most active parents, students and teachers were aware that a neighbor school was still facing closing.

The transcript shows how carefully Peabody handled its hearings. The following transcript was provided by CPS to Substance under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

CHICAGO BOARD OF EDUCATION CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS PUBLIC HEARING TO CONSIDER THE PROPOSED CLOSINg OF ELIZABETH PEABODY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL AND THE PROPOSED CHANGES OF THE ATTENDANCE AREA BOUNDARIES FOR LOZANO, OGDEN AND TALCOTT ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS

January 29, 2009

COMMENCING AT 5:00 P.M.

RESPICIO F. VAZQUEZ, ESQ., HEARING OFFICER

STENOGRAPHIC REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS had in the above-entitled matter held at the Chicago Board of Education, 125 South Clark Street, Board Chamber 500, Chicago, Illinois, commencing at 5:30 o'clock p.m, January 29, 2009 before Respicio F. Vazquez, Hearing Officer.

Reported By: Angela C. Loisi, CSR, RPR License No.: 084-004571.

HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Good evening, everybody, I would like to begin. Good evening, again, my name is Respicio Vazquez. And before I start, I would like to inform everybody that on my right, your left, we do have a Spanish interpreter. His name is Jay Nazario. Is there anybody here who will require or request the assistance of a Spanish interpreter? Over here? I'm going to ask, if it's okay, for the individuals who would request Spanish interpretation, if you can move to the -- my right your left.

The idea is to have the interpreter work with the individuals who need it during the hearing so that they can understand. Also, we do have a Sign Language interpreter on my left, your right. If she can raise her hand.

Does anybody need the assistance of a Sign Language interpreter?

No? Okay. If anybody else later on in the hearing -- we will have her available throughout the hearing but it looks like no one needs her at this time.

Okay. I'm an attorney in private practice here in Chicago. And on or about January the 5th, 2009 I was retained by the chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools to serve as an independent hearing officer in this matter today.

The purpose of this hearing is to enable me to receive public comments and concerned persons, specifically, including representatives of the CEO, members of the local school council, parents of the school students, members of the school staff, the school principal, representatives of the Chicago Teacher Union, students, and interested members of the public as to whether Peabody Elementary should be closed.

Notice of this hearing was served on

20 the parents, staff, members, principal and

21 members of the local school council via U.S.

22 Mail and personal service through CPS mail.

23 Notice of this hearing was served upon

24 the public by newspaper publication in the

4

1 Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune.

2 Pursuant to said notice this hearing

3 was scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. and let the

4 record reflect that we began this hearing at

5 5:33 p.m.

6 Pursuant to the directives provided in

7 the document entitled, Procedures For Hearings

8 On Proposed School Closings, Consolidations,

9 Attendance Area Boundary Changes or

10 Reconstitution, I will receive comments from

11 representatives from CPS concerning why they

12 are proposing to close the Peabody Elementary

13 School.

14 Then I will hear from those individuals

15 who have signed up to speak today in the order

16 in which they signed in until all who have

17 signed in to be heard have been heard, or until

18 we reach 7:30 p.m., whichever occurs first.

19 Individuals who have signed up to speak

20 during designated hours to do so will be given

21 two minutes to present their comments. And we

22 have a number of people who have signed up

23 today, so I am going to have to be a little

24 strict on that two-hour time limit.

5

1 I will expect to run this hearing in an

2 orderly manner, and I ask that everyone respect

3 each other's speakers despite the position they

4 take if it's different from other speaker's

5 positions.

6 A certified court reporter is here to

7 transcribe the hearing. She cannot record two

8 people speaking at one time.

9 Therefore, if I have a question for

10 you, please stop speaking and do not begin to

11 answer my question until I have completed it,

12 so the court reporter can take the full

13 complete question and answer.

14 When you're called upon to speak,

15 please step up to the microphone, state your

16 name for the record, spell your complete name,

17 and state your affiliation with the Peabody

18 Elementary School.

19 I also ask that at the very beginning,

20 you inform me of your position as either in

21 favor or against or neutral position regarding

22 the proposal of closing Peabody Elementary

23 School.

24 Following the public hearing, pursuant

6

1 to state law and the rules promulgated by the

2 board governing this hearing, I will prepare

3 and submit to the CEO a written recommendation

4 and summary of the public comments and

5 documents received at this hearing this

6 evening.

7 The CEO will receive that record and

8 any recommendation submitted to the board for

9 consideration by the CEO.

10 Finally, the record in this case will

11 remain open until 5:00 p.m. tomorrow for

12 persons to submit any written materials they

13 want me to consider and make a part of the

14 record.

15 Those materials should be submitted to

16 Miguel Rodriguez in the CPS law department via

17 facsimile at area code 773-553-1769. Materials

18 submitted after that time will not be

19 considered in my recommendation of report.

20 The report will be issued sometime

21 before the February board meeting.

22 Will the first representative from CPS

23 please come forward. I believe it is Luis

24 Rodriguez. And if you can, Mr. Rodriguez,

7

1 introduce any of the staff who will be

2 testifying on behalf of CPS.

3 MR. L. RODRIGUEZ: Thank you, Mr. Hearing

4 Officer.

5 Good evening. For the record, my name

6 is Luis, L-U-I-S Rodriguez, R-O-D-I-G-U-E-Z. I

7 am an attorney for the Chicago Board of

8 Education's law department.

9 Before I begin my opening, I would

10 kindly ask the interpreters to step to the

11 podium and state their names and spell their

12 title beginning with the Spanish interpreter.

13 INTERPRETER NAZARIO: Good afternoon.

14 For the record, my name is Jay Nazario.

15 That's J-A-Y, N-A-Z-A-R-I-O, I am a certified

16 representative of Cook County.

17 MR. L. RODRIGUEZ: Thank you. As well as

18 the interpreter for the hearing impaired.

19 MS. CABERS: Good evening. My name is

20 Jean, J-E-A-N, Cabers, C-A-B-E-R-S.

21 MR. L. RODRIGUEZ: Thank you.

22 Mr. Hearing Officer, I'm appearing

23 before you today in connection with the

24 proposal of the chief executive officer of the

8

1 Chicago Public Schools to close Elizabeth

2 Peabody Elementary School.

3 At this time, I would like to tender to

4 you a binder of documents being submitted for

5 your consideration in support of the CEO's

6 proposal.

7 A true and correct copy of this binder

8 is available here in board chambers on the

9 ledge to my right for public viewing.

10 I also ask permission, Mr. Hearing

11 Officer, to read the table of contents in the

12 binder into the record at this time.

13 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Please proceed.

14 MR. L. RODRIGUEZ: Thank you.

15 The binder consists of the following

16 documents: At Tab A, you will find notices of

17 hearing.

18 Specifically, Tab A-1 notice letters to

19 the (a), parents; (b), principal; (c) assistant

20 principal; (d), teachers and staff members; and

21 (e), local school council members of Elizabeth

22 Peabody Elementary School.

23 Tab A-2, notice letters to the (a),

24 principal; and (b), local school council

9

1 members of Rodolfo Lozano Elementary School.

2 Tab A-3, notice letters to the (a),

3 principal; and (b), local school council

4 members of William B. Ogden Elementary School.

5 Tab A-4, notice letters to the

6 principal and local school council members of

7 Talcott Elementary School.

8 At Tab A-5, is an affidavit from Devin

9 F. McFarland, project manager to the deputy

10 chief executive officer regarding mail and

11 personal delivery of all notices on or about

12 January 13, 2009.

13 At Tab A-6, public notice of the

14 hearing and community meeting by newspaper

15 publication and (a), Hoy newspaper published in

16 Spanish beginning January 20, 2009; (b), LaRaza

17 Weekly Newspaper also published in Spanish

18 beginning January 23, 2009; (c), the Chicago

19 Sun-Times and (d), the Chicago Tribune both

20 published in English beginning January 19,

21 2009.

22 At Tab B, you will find relevant legal

23 and procedural documents. Specifically, at Tab

24 B-7, Chapter 105 of the Illinois Compiled

10

1 Statutes, Act 5, Section 3418, which enumerates

2 the powers and duties of the board.

3 Tab B-8, Chicago Board of Educations'

4 policy on the closing of schools.

5 Tab A-9, Chicago Board of Educations'

6 policy on the review and establishment of

7 school attendance boundaries.

8 Tab B-10, the chief executive officers

9 procedures for hearings on proposed school

10 closings, consolidation, attendance area

11 boundary changes or reconstitutions.

12 At Tab C, are documents and written

13 evidence in support of closing Elizabeth

14 Peabody Elementary School.

15 Specifically, at Tab C-11 is a map of

16 attendance area changes associated with the

17 proposal to close Elizabeth Peabody Elementary

18 School.

19 Tab C-12, graphs representing the

20 enrollment history of 2001 through '02 to 2008

21 to '09 of (a), Elizabeth Peabody; (b) Rodolfo

22 Lozano and (c) Talcott Elementary Schools.

23 Tab C-13, a report of impact on racial

24 composition and stability resulting from the

11

1 closing of Elizabeth Peabody Elementary School,

2 excuse me.

3 And, finally, Tab C-14, which a written

4 statement of Mr. James Dispensa who is a

5 director of school demographics and planning of

6 the Chicago Public Schools.

7 Mr. Hearing Officer, at this time I

8 respectfully request that the binder be

9 admitted into the record.

10 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: It will be

11 admitted.

12 MR. L. RODRIGUEZ: Thank you.

13 I would now like to introduce the CEO's

14 representative, Mr. James Dispensa, who will

15 make a statement in support of the CEO's

16 proposal. Mr. Dispensa's statement is located

17 in the binder at C-14.

18 Mr. Dispensa.

19 MR. DISPENSA: Thank you. And good

20 evening, Mr. Hearing Officer.

21 My name is James Dispensa, and I am the

22 director of school demographics and planning

23 for the Chicago Public Schools.

24 My responsibilities include undertaking

12

1 school demographics studies and enrollment

2 projections and the monitoring of space

3 utilization of the public school facilities

4 located throughout Chicago.

5 The chief executive officer has asked

6 me to appear at this hearing today to convey to

7 you and to the parents, staff members, and

8 local school council members of Peabody

9 Elementary School, as well as interested

10 members of the public in attendance,

11 information relevant to the proposal to close

12 Peabody for reasons associated with the space

13 utilization.

14 The Peabody Elementary School is

15 located at 1444 West Agusta Boulevard. And to

16 fully understand the under enrollment situation

17 of Peabody and the resulting in low space

18 utilization, I would like to take a few moments

19 to present the recent enrollment trends

20 associated with the school.

21 The line graph on the screen before you

22 represents the decline in Peabody's enrollment

23 since 2001.

24 During the 2001/2 school year,

13

1 Peabody's enrollment of 459 represented a

2 utilization of 61 percent, and since then the

3 school's enrollment declined an annual average

4 rate of 7 percent to the point where its

5 enrollment is today, 265 represents the

6 utilization rate of 35 percent.

7 If Peabody were to be closed, its

8 attendance area would be assigned to Lozano

9 Elementary School, which is located at 1424

10 North Cleaver Street; Talcott Elementary

11 School, which is located at 1840 West Ohio

12 Street; and Ogden Elementary School, which is

13 located at 24 West Walton Street.

14 Copies of these attendance areas and

15 the proposed changes were made available today,

16 and there is also a copy in the binder.

17 The line graph on the screen before you

18 now represents the decline in Lozano's

19 enrollment since 2001. During the

20 2001/'02 school year, all Lozano's enrollment

21 of 613 represents a utilization rate of 47

22 percent. Since then, the school's enrollment

23 declined from at an annual average rate of

24 6 percent to the point where its enrollment

14

1 today 410 represents the utilization rate of

2 31 percent.

3 The line graph on the screen before you

4 now represents the decline in Talcott's

5 enrollment since 2001. During the

6 2001/'02 school year, Talcott's enrollment of

7 661 represented a utilization rate of

8 54 percent.

9 And since then, that school's

10 enrollment declined in the annual average rate

11 of 3 percent to the point where its enrollment

12 today of 537 represents the utilization rate of

13 44 percent.

14 All students attending Peabody and

15 residing within with Peabody attendance area,

16 will be transferred to either Lozano or Talcott

17 should the board approve this proposal.

18 Although as noted, a small portion of

19 Peabody attendance area east of the expressway

20 would be assigned to the Ogden Elementary

21 School. There are no public school students

22 currently residing within that area. And so,

23 therefore, no existing Peabody students would

24 be transferred to Ogden.

15

1 Any student who does not wish to be

2 transferred to their neighborhood -- excuse me

3 attendance area school may request a transfer

4 to another school under the board's policy on

5 enrollment and the transfer of students to the

6 Chicago Public Schools.

7 Currently, there are 188 students

8 attending Peabody who also reside within the

9 Peabody area. Fifty-five of these students

10 would be transferred to Lozano, which would

11 increase its space utilization from 31 percent

12 to 36 percent. And 133 of these students would

13 be transferred and reassigned to Talcott, which

14 would increase its space utilization from

15 44 percent to 55 percent. Lozano and Talcott

16 would easily be able to accommodate these

17 students.

18 The remaining 77 students who currently

19 attend Peabody but reside outside of the

20 Peabody boundary, would return to their

21 neighborhood school. And, again, any student

22 that does not wish to be transferred to their

23 neighborhood attendance area school, may

24 request a transfer to another school under the

16

1 board's policy on enrollment and transfer of

2 students in the Chicago Public Schools.

3 Where appropriate, students with

4 individualized education plans and students

5 participating in the Homeless Education Program

6 who currently attend Peabody will receive

7 additional placements from CPS staff.

8 Also, students enrolled in the Homeless

9 Education Program may have other school

10 enrollment options.

11 All students would be advised of their

12 specific school assignments and options and

13 letters to their parents, if the board approves

14 the closing of Peabody.

15 The proposed closing of Peabody

16 Elementary School and the assignment of some of

17 its students to Lozano and Talcott would have

18 no significant impact on the racial composition

19 and stability of the schools.

20 In terms of racial composition and

21 stability, the option of maintaining the status

22 quo offers neither an advantage nor

23 disadvantage over the option of closing the

24 school.

17

1 While other alternatives were examined,

2 no alternatives effected the resulting racial

3 ethnic distribution of the students.

4 Thank you, Mr. Hearing Officer. This

5 concludes my statement.

6 MR. L. RODRIGUEZ: Mr. Hearing Officer,

7 that concludes the presentation in support of

8 the CEO's proposal. If you have any

9 additional questions, we will be available to

10 answer them.

11 Thank you for your time and for your

12 attention.

13 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Okay. Thank

14 you.

15 I do have one question.

16 Pursuant to the closing of schools

17 policy, it states that no schools will be

18 closed and if they would violate any of the

19 second amended consent decree in the matter of

20 U.S. versus Board of Education. Is it the

21 school board's position whether this proposal

22 will or will not violate that policy?

23 MR. DISPENSA: It is --

24 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Or consent

18

1 decree I should say.

2 MR. DISPENSA: Yes, it is the position or

3 it is the district's position that this

4 proposal would not violate any of those

5 conditions within the decree.

6 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Okay. Thank

7 you.

8 I have no further questions at this

9 time.

10 MR. DISPENSA: Thank you.

11 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: At this point,

12 I would like to proceed by calling on the --

13 excuse me? I would like to proceed with the

14 people for public speaking. I will like to

15 take one individual sort of out of order as a

16 courtesy to our public officials. I usually

17 allow them the opportunity to speak first

18 based on their busy schedule. And other

19 meetings that they usually attend to. So I

20 will -- I understand that Alderman Burnett is

21 here. I would like to say a few words so I

22 would like at this point to give the alderman

23 that opportunity.

24 MR. BURNETT: Thank you very much, sir.

19

1 I am Walter Burnett of the 27th ward.

2 I represent Peabody, but also represent

3 Carpenter School and also Schiller School.

4 I have been in several conversations

5 with members from the board of education in

6 regards of the schools.

7 We haven't come to any final conclusion

8 on any of them at this time. I just want to

9 state for the record as it stands right now,

10 I'm not in full support of the closings of

11 these schools right now. Maybe after some more

12 deliberation and talking, for instance, just on

13 this map, I have the child with a -- situation

14 because I just was notified the other day that,

15 you know, Ogden -- Ogden was going to maybe be

16 a high school.

17 So I am a little confused about the

18 maps, they talk about two different schools. I

19 want to make sure that the schools from our

20 ward are able to go to these schools actually

21 haven't heard from the parents of Peabody at

22 this time, and we will also hear what they have

23 to say. I have heard from the parents from

24 Carpenter School, and I haven't heard from any

20

1 parents from Schiller School, but I am

2 concerned about all these schools. And my main

3 concern is that the young people from my ward

4 that I represent can get education in whatever

5 good school is in our area that our children

6 get the best education that they can get.

7 Also, I am concerned about the

8 challenge with -- even with the Peabody

9 boundaries, the cutting off at Milwaukee Avenue

10 will cut off a large housing development that

11 they currently walk across the street and go to

12 Peabody, which is called Logan Square

13 Cooperative, which is one of the first

14 cooperatives in the City of Chicago. And most

15 of those children walk right over and go to

16 that school, and I don't understand how they --

17 you know, how they just get mapped out and

18 boundaries change a little bit and living right

19 next to it.

20 So there's a concern there with the

21 proximity with the school that they may end up

22 having to go to.

23 And from what I understand, from some

24 of the discussions that we've had that whatever

21

1 happens with Peabody that the children from

2 first to fourth grade will still be able to go

3 to Peabody but is -- go to eighth grade that

4 may not be able to go to Peabody, then they

5 have it to go to these other schools.

6 And I'm concerned about the safety of

7 children traveling distance specifically, from

8 the Milwaukee and Division walking all the way

9 over to Talcott, Lozano, whatever the case may

10 be.

11 So I still have some concerns at this

12 point. I am not in full support of it as of

13 yet.

14 Hopefully we can work on some things to

15 make sure some of those things are taken care

16 of.

17 And then also I just have the

18 permission of my state representative, one of

19 my state representatives, Soto, right now who

20 is not in support of it either.

21 And she would continue to be talking

22 with the board of education along with myself

23 to try and reassure people from our ward and

24 her district that we try to reassure our kids

22

1 get the best education we can get.

2 Thank you very much.

3 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Thank you,

4 Alderman.

5 Next speaker will be Marilyn Stuart.

6 Is she here? Okay. The pillars got in the

7 way. Okay. I can call you later if you want.

8 MS. STUART: Yeah, let's do that.

9 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Okay.

10 MS. STUART: Thank you.

11 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Okay. I will

12 just -- let's see, Erika Flowers.

13 MS. FLOWERS: My name is Erica Flowers.

14 The correct spelling is E-R-I-C-A, Flowers,

15 F-L-O-W-E-R-S.

16 Greetings to all.

17 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: I'm sorry. Can

18 I also ask your affiliation? Are you a

19 parent, teacher?

20 MS. FLOWERS: I am a parent.

21 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: A parent. And

22 then, of course, if you can state at the

23 beginning whether you're against the proposal

24 or for the proposal or neutral.

23

1 MS. FLOWERS: I am against the proposal.

2 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Okay. Then

3 proceed. Thank you.

4 MS. FLOWERS: Okay.

5 Well, I am a proud parent of a third

6 grader of Peabody Elementary School. I feel

7 that closing of Peabody is detrimental to not

8 only to the students, but also to the staff.

9 And Peabody, Peabody is a very family-oriented

10 environment.

11 They say that they want to close

12 Peabody due to utilization, but I feel as CPS

13 student, which has been through respective

14 classrooms, overcrowded classrooms, I feel that

15 the smaller setting of the classrooms would

16 give the students opportunity to excel

17 academically, but I also feel character and

18 self-esteem. The closings of Peabody means

19 that children who attend -- I'm sorry -- who

20 attend Peabody and my child is

21 African-American, will be attending a bilingual

22 school, and I'm so against that.

23 Also, safety is a concern of mine. If

24 the students from Peabody -- there is a long

24

1 distance from Peabody. There is an additional

2 mile or mile and a half from Peabody to

3 Talcott, from Peabody to Lozano and I'm

4 concerned. They have to cross a main

5 intersection, which is not pretty safe. And

6 also there's seven registered sex offenders

7 that's in that area.

8 I don't think that CPS kind of have

9 that safety for the kids involved. I

10 understand the school has not been utilized as

11 far as CPS is concerned, but they have

12 academically excelled. They are --

13 MS. DANIELS: Your time is up, thank you.

14 MS. FLOWERS: Thank you.

15 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: I do apologize

16 in advance, but there are a number of people

17 who want to speak, so I am going to ask if

18 people can try to limit their comments to two

19 minutes. Or if there is a group

20 representative that can speak on behalf of a

21 number of you, then we can entertain or I can

22 entertain a little more time for that

23 individual who's speaking for a number of you

24 just want to make sure I get everybody who

25

1 signed up.

2 So the next speaker I have is Zaterrica

3 Flowers, Z-A-T-E-R-R-I-C-A.

4 Again, if you can spell your name, full

5 name, and your affiliation and whether you're

6 for or against before you proceed with your

7 comments.

8 Thank you.

9 ZATERRICA FLOWERS: Hello. My name is

10 Zaterrica Flowers, Z-A-T-E-R-R-I-C-A,

11 F-L-O-W-E-R-S.

12 I am a student in Peabody. I am

13 against Peabody closing. I want to say in my

14 opinion, I transferred to Peabody from another

15 school because my mom thought if I was in the

16 smaller setting, I would get more attention and

17 I have. I am now in third grade. I don't want

18 to go to another school. I have learned a lot

19 of things at Peabody. The teachers at Peabody

20 are so helpful and concerned. But at Elizabeth

21 Peabody Elementary School I have learned that

22 my mind is terrible thing to waste. That I can

23 go as far in life as I want.

24 Since I've been at Peabody I have also

26

1 learned that -- and if I don't understand and I

2 know to just ask. This is why I want Peabody

3 to stay open, so please don't close our school

4 and things.

5 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Okay. Thank

6 you.

7 Our next speaker is Frederico Flores,

8 Junior.

9 MR. FLORES: Good evening, I'm Frederico

10 Flores, Junior, principal of Peabody

11 Elementary School. F-R-E-D-E-R-I-C-O,

12 F-L-O-R-E-S.

13 You are proposing to close a very

14 successful elementary school. Research shows

15 that small schools work. Out of 324 CPS

16 schools, on the NCL improvement status watch

17 list, we are one of only eight to be removed.

18 These numbers tell you how difficult a

19 task this is and how great our school is, and

20 it did not matter that we have 99 percent

21 population with free and reduced lunch.

22 Our ISAT scores have gone up seven in

23 the last eight years including the last five

24 years. We have a rigorous academic curriculum

27

1 and keep high expectations for all students.

2 We offer a healthy, safe, and supportive

3 learning environment. No school can be

4 successful unless their students, staff, and

5 parents work together on focused goals.

6 I publicly want to thank parents and

7 staffs for all their hard work, their

8 determination to have children succeed in going

9 the extra step it takes to reach our goals.

10 I am proud of all the success we

11 achieved because of you. Our parents may be

12 poor but they, too, can see what is going to

13 happen here. Our school has prime real estate

14 value and has become a target. If our school

15 is closed for under enrollment it will surely

16 be reopened right away as another type of

17 school serving other CPS students and a huge

18 push will be made to increase the enrollment.

19 Academically, successful schools should not be

20 closed, period.

21 Peabody has done our part to make CPS

22 premier urban school system in Chicago in

23 America. I don't see this goal, how this goal

24 will be reached when it's closing down

28

1 successful schools like ours. We deserve a

2 better faith, and over 1,000 signatures on

3 these petitions agree.

4 Thank you.

5 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Mr. Flores,

6 just for the record, you're against the

7 proposal?

8 MR. FLORES: Yes.

9 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Okay.

10 MR. FLORES: Can I enter these into

11 the --

12 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Yes, you can,

13 yes, you can. Can you -- and for anybody

14 else who has any written statements, please

15 feel free even if you read them you can leave

16 them with us so we can incorporate that as

17 part of the record as well.

18 The next speaker is Don Brown.

19 MR. BROWN: Good evening. My name is Don

20 Brown, B-R-O-W-N. I am here in the capacity

21 of Peabody principal for a day candidate. I

22 have been privileged to have the opportunity

23 to come to Peabody three out of the last four

24 years and principal of the day, for a day

29

1 program.

2 And I have been very, very impressed

3 with the students, staff, the faculty and the

4 administration of that school.

5 It clearly is a warm and generous

6 environment where the children prosper and have

7 been prospering. I have seen that over the

8 time that I've been exposed to the hallways

9 there at that school.

10 I instituted something my first time

11 through there challenging the children to come

12 to school so that they could learn and,

13 obviously, it has been working, not because of

14 my effort but because of the staff's effort.

15 And I know it's been working because at the end

16 of the year, they have been sponsoring a

17 luncheon for those students with complete

18 attendance.

19 And there have been a number of

20 students who have never missed a day of class,

21 which says a lot to me that they're getting the

22 support they need in that institution to

23 succeed. And, obviously, we have heard from

24 Mr. Flores' comments about the statistics

30

1 relating to the academic performance and those

2 are the statistics that I think should make a

3 difference to this here to make this decision.

4 The statistics about utilization of

5 space are one thing, but that doesn't say

6 anything about what's happening to the students

7 and what is best for them. And I think that

8 the track record of Peabody School, given its

9 administration, given its dedicated staff, and

10 its dedicated faculty speaks for itself and it

11 sort of leads me to the conclusion of, if it's

12 not broken, it doesn't need to be fixed.

13 I think Peabody School, if it closes,

14 will be a travesty to the administration of

15 Chicago Public Schools in the sense that they

16 have a very good self-sustaining school with

17 good academic production, and it should remain

18 open.

19 Thank you.

20 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Next speaker,

21 Paradise Cozey. P-A-R-A-D-I-S-E, C-O-S-E-Y.

22 Well, it's my understanding that -- if

23 there's students involved, we do want to

24 protect the names and identifications of the

31

1 students, however, it's going to be very

2 difficult when the name I call I won't know

3 if it's a student or not.

4 So is there a parent --

5 UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I have her

6 permission slip. I'm her teacher.

7 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Oh, okay. Do

8 you have a permission from the parent? Okay.

9 I just want to make sure that -- because this

10 will be made part of the public record and I

11 want to make sure that the parents do consent

12 to having the child --

13 (Simultaneous colloquy.)

14 UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I have three

15 students here and all of their permission

16 slips.

17 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Okay. If you

18 could hand that... okay. Very well.

19 You can proceed.

20 UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Should she spell

21 her name?

22 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Yes, if she can

23 spell her name and then identification in

24 terms of, I am assuming student and also if

32

1 she is for or against the proposal.

2 PARADISE COSEY: My name is Paradise

3 Cosey.

4 THE COURT REPORTER: I need her to speak

5 up.

6 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Okay. I'm

7 sorry to interrupt. I want to make sure we

8 get you as part of the record. If you can

9 either get closer to the microphone or speak

10 louder.

11 PARADISE COSEY: My name is Paradise

12 Cosey, P-A-R-A-D-I-S-E, C-O-S-E-Y.

13 I am a student and I am against --

14 there are a hundred reasons I can tell you not

15 to close Peabody Schools, but we only have two

16 minutes.

17 Peabody is a place that I feel safe,

18 secure, and comfortable. We also know that we

19 are safe at Peabody. We have a security system

20 that keeps out strangers, we have crossing

21 guards and --

22 THE COURT REPORTER: I'm sorry. I can't

23 understand her.

24 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Excuse me,

33

1 Paradise. I'm sorry. The Court Reporter

2 can't understand what you are saying. So if

3 you can slow down as well.

4 THE COURT REPORTER: I need her to go

5 back to crossing guards.

6 PARADISE COSEY: And sometimes we walk in

7 there is also a security guard or a staff

8 member in the hallway that can always see

9 what we are doing. There are no problems in

10 the hallways or classrooms. That happens

11 because we always know we can go to the

12 teachers if we have some problems.

13 The teachers are really kind and always

14 prepared to teach us lots of things. My

15 teacher shows us right from wrong. She always

16 reminds us that we are going to be learning

17 meaningful stuff in life. She works really

18 hard to get us to ISAT testing. Even when we

19 don't feel like doing it, she always has a way

20 to start a lesson. We always have a lot of fun

21 activities after school like games, clubs, and

22 computer clubs --

23 THE COURT REPORTER: I'm sorry. And

24 what?

34

1 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: I'm sorry.

2 Repeat that last one.

3 PARADISE COSEY: Fun activities after

4 school like, dance, art club, and computer

5 club, these things are important to us

6 because we are learning and having fun at the

7 same time.

8 Learning how to do all these things has

9 kept us from being lazy and what at home. This

10 is where real people care about us and wants us

11 to succeed. It is where we know we can do our

12 best.

13 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: The next

14 speaker, Marie Lacko, L-A-C-K-O.

15 MS. LACKO: I am Marie Lacko, M-A-R-I-E,

16 L-A-C-K-O.

17 I am a teacher at Peabody school, and I

18 am against it being closed.

19 Peabody school should remain open.

20 Peabody is the success story. We have the

21 community school whose score increased

22 137 percent over the last eight years.

23 So that's not only 70 percent of our

24 students meet our state -- exceed state

35

1 standards.

2 The school made annual yearly progress,

3 received improving schools award in the state

4 and a letter of congratulations of the state

5 superintendent of education. We are one of

6 only nine CPS schools that have been removed

7 from the "no child left behind" needs

8 improvement list. Why then is the Chicago

9 Board of Education proposing to close our

10 school and 324 other CPS schools remain on the

11 needs to improve list?

12 Many of these schools are under

13 utilized and not making the grade. We are

14 making the grade. Peabody has implemented the

15 six critical areas of economic improvement,

16 which research funded by the state board of

17 education has shown our necessary school

18 improvement.

19 The administration and teachers have

20 worked to develop a safe and positive, teach

21 students in a positive learning environment.

22 We offer a variety of programs that

23 support student and school improvement.

24 Our teachers have become a teaching

36

1 team through study groups and the use of best

2 practices and scientific -- math, reading and

3 science programs.

4 Instruction is based on individual

5 student needs. Parents and the community are

6 supportive and involved.

7 MS. DANIELS: Please conclude.

8 MS. LACKO: Teachers, staff, and parents

9 have worked together to make a difference.

10 Thank you.

11 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Our next

12 speaker Lisa Lane.

13 MS. LANE: My name is Lisa Lane, L-I-S-A,

14 L-A-N-E.

15 I am a special education teacher at

16 Peabody School and I am against the closing.

17 I am here to address what the academic

18 grains of special education students and the

19 findings of the Illinois State Board of

20 Education Special Education Audit conducted in

21 2008.

22 The Peabody class of 2008 ISAT scores

23 for math indicate that three of the top five

24 students scores were those of special ed

37

1 children, results in Peabody special ed

2 students making the most gains in math for area

3 based schools.

4 Test scores also indicate that special

5 education scores for both reading and math

6 continued to improve yearly.

7 The findings of the Illinois State

8 Board of Education Special Education Audit

9 indicate all files reviewed show documentation

10 of age and grade appropriate curriculum and

11 instructional strategies. All placement begins

12 with the least restricted environment.

13 All general and special education

14 teachers plan curricula and school activities,

15 and collaborative teams.

16 Parents are always welcome to feel free

17 to discuss their child's progress with the

18 teacher and staff, the principal, the school

19 staff, and local school council conduct

20 planning to assure that students with

21 disabilities are provided opportunities for

22 integration with non-disabled peers.

23 It was also suggested by one of the

24 team consultants that Peabody be recommended as

38

1 a model school for inclusion and team teaching.

2 Peabody students who are designated in

3 special needs go onto high school city wide

4 better prepared because they were taught a

5 grade level within an inclusive setting.

6 To close, special education students at

7 Peabody are finding they can be successful in

8 the classroom because they are being taught in

9 a smaller setting by teachers who believe in

10 the least restrictive environment and

11 collaborative in teaching models who are not

12 likely practiced throughout other Chicago

13 public schools.

14 Thank you.

15 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: The next

16 speaker is Sheila Vaultz-Polli.

17 MS. VAULTZ-POLLI: Good afternoon, I'm --

18 my name is Sheila Vaultz-Polli. That's

19 S-H-E-L-I-A V-A-U-L-T-Z - P-O-L-L-I.

20 I am against Peabody being closed. I

21 am a third grade teacher, second/third grade

22 teacher at Peabody.

23 I would like to present this letter of

24 recommendation or letter of statistics of

39

1 things that I am about to talk about.

2 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Okay. Thank

3 you.

4 MS. VAULTZ-POLLI: I would like to

5 address some of the issues and concerns that

6 I have if Peabody school is closed. The main

7 concern I have has to deal with the safety of

8 our students.

9 If Peabody were to close, students

10 would be asked to cross very dangerous

11 intersections in order to reach either Lozano

12 or Talcott. It is not fair to ask our students

13 to walk eight blocks to Lozano or even walk

14 over a mile to Talcott if our neighborhood

15 school is the closest.

16 What would happen if the -- in case of

17 bad weather -- or even daylight saving time

18 will our children be able to attend

19 after-school educational activities or sport

20 activities at those schools?

21 Our students are at the 99 percent

22 poverty level and have -- how these students or

23 parents pay for transportation. There's also

24 the problem of gangs and violence from

40

1 different communities, and it's been

2 documented, the document that I gave you, that

3 showing that students -- if a school is closed

4 down and those students are transferred into a

5 different school, safety is the major problem

6 or major concern.

7 When students are forced to travel from

8 one neighborhood to another the child will have

9 to deal with gangs from other communities or

10 different gangs within that area.

11 The interaction between the income of

12 transfer students and those of a receiving

13 school sometimes tend to escalate into violent

14 confrontation.

15 MS. DANIELS: Ma'am, please, conclude.

16 MS. VAULTZ-POLLI: I would like very much

17 to say, to me, Peabody is a community school,

18 we would like very much for our school to

19 stay open.

20 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Thank you.

21 The next speaker is Olga Giglia.

22 MS. GIGLIA: Giglia.

23 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Giglia.

24 MS. GIGLIA: Hello. My name is Olga

41

1 Giglia. That's O-L-G-A, Gilia G-I-G-L-I-A.

2 I am a bilingual teacher at the Peabody

3 Elementary School and I most definitely am

4 against closing of Peabody Elementary School.

5 I'm asking the Board of Education to

6 reconsider the closing of Peabody Elementary

7 School. Peabody -- the closing of Peabody

8 would be a mistake for our community. This

9 will divide and separate the children in this

10 neighborhood school, which served and

11 educates -- this school serves and educates

12 student body made up of approximately 70

13 percent Hispanic and about 30 percent

14 African-American.

15 Of these children, roughly 40 percent

16 are considered English language learned.

17 English language learned meaning that these

18 children's home language is not English and

19 their English is very limited.

20 Our faculty is made up of a lot of --

21 approximately 50 percent being Hispanic like

22 myself.

23 I am a Hispanic -- I am of the Hispanic

24 descent, a bi-lingual teacher, and I have been

42

1 teaching at Peabody for approximately 18 years.

2 I have worked with the -- for almost my

3 entire career.

4 Our children do come from about

5 99 percent, as stated before, low-income

6 families.

7 Yet, with these odds against our

8 school, our school has managed to show great

9 improvement in the area of academics. Our

10 teachers have been involved in extensive

11 training scientifically based reading and math

12 programs. We have brought this new knowledge

13 into practice in the classroom, and it is

14 obviously working because our school has

15 continued to improve year after year.

16 I am amazed and impressed with the

17 progress and achievement of these children.

18 Considering the fact --

19 MS. DANIELS: Time.

20 MS. GIGLIA: Yes. Considering the fact

21 that these children come in with very little

22 knowledge of English and were not a specialty

23 school like a gifted or magnet school our

24 school is still doing a super job. We take

43

1 pride in nurturing all our students in

2 helping them achieve their best on a daily

3 basis. So if we're doing such a super job

4 showing continuous growth in academics, why

5 are we closing, why are we putting an end to

6 this progress, please reconsider.

7 Thank you.

8 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: The next

9 speaker is a student Selena Guevas. And I do

10 have the permission slip.

11 If you can get the microphone close to

12 her so we can hear her for the record, she can

13 spell her name.

14 SELENA GUEVAS: My name is Selena Guevas.

15 S-E-L-E-N-A G-U-E-V-A-S.

16 Five decades ago my parents --

17 THE COURT REPORTER: I'm having a hard

18 time hearing her.

19 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: I'm sorry. I

20 don't want to interrupt, but the court

21 reporter is not -- can you please speak

22 either louder or closer to the microphone?

23 SELENA GUEVAS: Okay. Five decades ago

24 my parents moved into Peabody's neighborhood.

44

1 We have stayed in the neighborhood because

2 Peabody's in our community. Peabody was the

3 Head Start for -- to the elementary teachers.

4 Two generations, my brothers go to and

5 attended Peabody from kindergarten to eighth

6 grade. We are all -- this with great jobs. My

7 brothers and I learned English at Peabody,

8 which has given us double opportunities.

9 My mom receives extra payment at her

10 job because she is bilingual. She wants the

11 same experience for me. She wants us to walk

12 to school safely only a few houses away and on

13 the same path.

14 Please keep Peabody open.

15 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: The next

16 speaker is -- is it Larone is it B-R-I-N or

17 B-R-I-M? Do we also have a permission slip?

18 UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: It was turned in.

19 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: I don't have --

20 oh, you do have a permission slip. Okay.

21 Can someone -- thank you.

22 LARONE BRIM: My name is Larone Brim,

23 L-A-R-O-N-E, B-R-I-M.

24 And I am against.

45

1 I speak for students and staff when I

2 say Peabody should stay open. Here at Peabody,

3 we work hard to improve and get good grades.

4 Some friends will be set apart, teachers will

5 have to look for new jobs, if Peabody closes

6 down.

7 Kids will have to travel three times as

8 far just to get to school and this past year

9 this school has improved. I have been here

10 since preschool, and I want to see the day I

11 graduate from Elizabeth Peabody school.

12 Thank you.

13 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: And the next

14 speaker I have is Donna Brown.

15 MS. BROWN: Good evening. My name is

16 Donna Brown. D-O-N-N-A, B-R-O-W-N.

17 I am a sixth grade regular education

18 teacher at Peabody. And I am very against this

19 closing.

20 You've heard about our academic

21 achievement. I would like to share with you

22 some of the programs that we have that are

23 after school. Several other teachers will talk

24 to you about the in-school programs we have

46

1 found after having read a harder family

2 research project brief about the importance of

3 after-school programs and how they help

4 students who improve in academic achievement

5 and can improve in youth, soul, and development

6 outcomes. We have a lot of quality

7 partnerships.

8 To begin with, within 24 students in

9 grades five through eight participated in

10 Chicago area problem solvers. It's a

11 futuristic research reading and writing and

12 speaking programs, and the students are dealing

13 with issues that are going to be into their

14 regular use of coming up with futuristic

15 solutions.

16 They also raised the money for this to

17 pay for their city-wide competition because

18 they do travel twice.

19 We have our six, seven, and eighth

20 graders partake in the Chicago Conservation

21 Corps C3 Club. And for the second year they

22 have been recognized by the Chicago Department

23 of Environment as well as 83 schools to be the

24 CPS recycling target.

47

1 Then we have guitar lessons for the

2 fifth graders and every spring they perform at

3 House of Blues. We also have the boys' soccer

4 team that performed for the first time at

5 Montrose Harbor and the girls are waiting for

6 their team to reorganize.

7 This year we were the only Chicago

8 public school to have an animation class

9 through the Chicago International Children's

10 Film Festival and the children created a

11 five-minute piece that I will be giving to you

12 in this envelope.

13 We've also got an article, a year book

14 club, young authors, Peabody dancers in the

15 morning and dancers in the afternoon. We have

16 a new club, gardening club in the spring and

17 fall. And our garden received a second place

18 award this past year and one of our retired

19 special ed teachers has returned.

20 We offer lots of quality programs and

21 we really want to continue with these students.

22 Thank you very much.

23 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Our next

24 speaker is Zaria Brim and I do have the

48

1 permission slip.

2 ZARIA BRIM: Hello. My name is Zaria

3 Brim, Z-A-R-I-A, B-R-I-M.

4 I am in third grade. On behalf of my

5 family and I, we would like to say I believe

6 Peabody should stay open. I love it there and

7 I don't want to go to Lozano or Talcott school.

8 We will have to walk more than eight

9 blocks to Lozano or almost a mile to Talcott.

10 If Peabody stays open it will be a loss to our

11 education, the family, students, and staff. I

12 stand here today and want our school to have a

13 chance to stay open. I would love it if it

14 doesn't close. If Peabody should stay open, we

15 believe in our heart like friends that you have

16 to adore our friendships will be broken and we

17 have one of the teachers, too. You won't find

18 a good teacher like Ms. Program (phonetic).

19 I like Peabody because it is a really

20 good school. I want to graduate from my

21 school. I want to get a diploma for all the

22 hard work I've done. One day I want to look

23 back and say, I have graduated from Peabody

24 school and while I've been there I'll always

49

1 remember what was taught to me to prepare me

2 for the real world. I will be prepared for the

3 real world because I come to the school I love.

4 These are the petitions that were -- that

5 students decided to keep the school open.

6 Thank you for letting me speak out for my

7 school.

8 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Next speaker is

9 America Sherwood.

10 MS. SHERWOOD: My name is America

11 Sherwood. I am a first grade bi-lingual ASL

12 teacher and also a delegate -- high school.

13 I am against the school closing.

14 You know, the Peabody school teachers

15 belong to a family that cares deeply for the

16 children and their lives. We all know about

17 the needs of the community. Our success is not

18 accidental. Peabody is able to acquire many

19 donors, members of the school in Northbrook has

20 been our sister school for over ten years.

21 District 28 has donated unused

22 materials, books and computers for over 10

23 years.

24 On the Record Book Store donates new

50

1 books to primary and grade students -- there is

2 another donor from this area that gives us any

3 excess warehouse merchandise to use and prizes

4 for our positive behavior modification Bulldog

5 Buck Program.

6 They opened up the store yesterday and

7 today for the kids to purchase little gifts.

8 Complete turkey dinners are donated for

9 ten or more of our families to eat every year.

10 The children at our school do not just learn to

11 receive, but to give. They contribute to

12 UNICEF at Halloween time by using their little

13 boxes to put pennies in, they bring in canned

14 goods to donate to the Chicago Food Depository.

15 Our children at Peabody are acknowledged.

16 Children are chosen as students for the

17 month and parent involvement -- throughout the

18 year and they are given certificates and

19 awarded a pin.

20 We hold an award assembly to award good

21 grades and attendance every quarter and -- day.

22 Our school has a well-equipped program

23 that serves the community. Every year we hold

24 a science fair and contest. We utilize the

51

1 volunteers, the tutors, and are an extra pair

2 of hands in many activities.

3 Our school is internet wire connected

4 and we have two computer rooms set up. All

5 teachers have two or new computers in their

6 classrooms. We have security.

7 MS. DANIELS: Please finish.

8 MS. SHERWOOD: We have a security guard

9 plus a key entry, video alarm system for

10 protection.

11 Thank you very much.

12 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Our next

13 speaker is John Imperial.

14 MR. IMPERIAL: I'm John Imperial.

15 J-O-H-N, I-M-P-E-R-I-A-L.

16 I am a teacher at Peabody Elementary

17 School, and I am against closing the school.

18 Our academic program is enriched by

19 our -- to come during the day. All sixth,

20 seventh, and eighth graders follow the

21 guidelines of the Chicago Metro History

22 Education Center to prepare the annual history

23 fair projects. Several compete city-wide with

24 one or two projects advancing to the Illinois

52

1 State -- repaired each year.

2 Sixth, seventh, and eighth graders work

3 also over the project bill, the bill specialist

4 known to the students go to -- teaches the

5 students gang and drug awareness, decision

6 making skills, goal setting, values, and how to

7 deal with life's expectations.

8 Attorneys volunteer to the

9 Constitutional Rights Foundation to teach our

10 sixth graders lessons on laws, rights, and the

11 democratic process.

12 And all the six through eighth graders

13 participate in the abstinence class taught by

14 Resurrection Hospital and sex education class

15 taught about --

16 Since 1995, our students participated

17 in youth visions. This program enables

18 students, art students' art to be publicly

19 displayed along with several other schools.

20 Seven years ago Peabody began hosting

21 the Rtiz Hor Lunch Program. For an hour once

22 each week representatives from several

23 corporations within the city are brought to

24 Peabody to read -- to read one on one with

53

1 students.

2 From this very program Peabody has

3 adopted two other programs that it offers. We

4 now host the early childhood program, and

5 workplace mentoring programs. The early

6 childhood program is similar to Hor lunch, the

7 only difference being that age group.

8 The workplace mentoring has been an

9 outstanding program because Rtiz buses our

10 students --

11 MS. DANIELS: Please conclude.

12 MR. IMPERIAL: -- to receive one on one

13 tutoring in a workplace environment. Because

14 we have the most of all area programs,

15 Peabody has become a Rtiz model school.

16 Thank you very much.

17 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Next speaker is

18 Gladys Nunez.

19 MS. NUNEZ: My name is Gladys Nunez,

20 G-L-A-D-Y-S, N-U-N-E-Z. And I am a teacher

21 from Peabody school, and I am opposed to the

22 closing of the school.

23 I am -- what Mr. Imperial (phonetic)

24 was just talking about some of the programs and

54

1 services at our schools offers.

2 In conclusion, our children are to help

3 others through our American project raising

4 funds for St. Judes Children's Hospital,

5 Pennies for Peace for school children and -- to

6 help less fortunate families. Teachers make

7 grants to bring more materials to our school.

8 This year alone grants from Donors Choice have

9 provided a musical keyboard and a sewing

10 machine. Students will receive both musical

11 instruction and sewing lessons through our

12 connected math programs in sixth grade.

13 Also five teachers participated in the

14 Shelly Program now called Founders (phonetic)

15 Readers. After many hours of professional

16 development, teachers order up to $500 worth of

17 trained goods for the classroom. This is

18 exciting for our students when the new math

19 books arrive --

20 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Okay. Can

21 you either slow down or --

22 MS. NUNEZ: Every student wrote a

23 personal letter to Santa and then Santa

24 arrived with a gift for every student. That

55

1 worked out and our -- with a $25 gift

2 certificate to use at Crate and Barrel

3 stores. This was overwhelming generous

4 programs that caused joy to everyone.

5 The science mobile from the University

6 of Illinois visits primary classes annually.

7 Our second and third grade has started -- each

8 program and the entire school --

9 MS. DANIELS: Please conclude.

10 MS. NUNEZ: -- and gets generally -- and

11 generally holds the new born chicks before

12 they are returned to the farm.

13 Peabody is a wonderful nourishing place

14 both during and after school. Our small

15 setting has allowed our students to grow in so

16 many ways.

17 Thank you.

18 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Thank you.

19 Mrs. Stuart, I know you offered to

20 listen to the students. I'm not sure if you

21 want me to proceed or do you want me to -- you

22 know, what your -- okay.

23 MS. STUART: Thank you.

24 My name is Marilyn Stuart, president of

56

1 the Chicago Teachers' Union. I also want

2 everybody to know that I am proud of Chicago

3 Public Schools. I am a veteran of special

4 education teacher in Chicago Public Schools

5 hard of hearing and handicapped students for

6 over 30 years.

7 What I'm hearing here is I have been to

8 several meetings and I am wondering are there

9 any school board members here -- the board

10 members that make the decision, are they here?

11 Because we're just waiting to hear if they're

12 still here. Absent?

13 The problem is with the transcripts is

14 you have to see what you're effecting because

15 when you read from a record, you talk about

16 under utilization and space allocation, these

17 are human beings, these are -- I -- my heart

18 breaks because, as a teacher, I know what

19 they're talking about. The board members,

20 business men, business men and woman don't know

21 that teaching education is about relationships.

22 We don't break a relationship like

23 this. The board members need to see it because

24 when you read it, you don't read materials, you

57

1 don't see the passion that people are talking

2 about. I heard a rumor, I don't like to hear

3 rumors, but someone told me that Peabody was

4 sold to low street charter before the court

5 hearing. Does anybody know if that's accurate?

6 No one can answer that.

7 They were talking about the mouths of

8 babes -- basically to paraphrase you're taking

9 the heart out of the neighborhood. Peabody is

10 the heart and education is about teaching our

11 students. Everything that they're talking

12 about is what we thought we were supposed to be

13 doing as teachers and administrators and

14 professionals in a public school system.

15 We're saying I understand, you know,

16 over and over we go over this, I have been

17 saying this since 2004. Now what you got here

18 today -- we had a demonstration yesterday

19 there's a movement going on. You got parents,

20 you got children, you got teachers, parents,

21 principals, unions are saying that what you're

22 doing is renaissance 2010. Is that about the

23 education of these children to renaissance for

24 somebody else. Obviously, it is not for the

58

1 children of the neighborhood. These teachers

2 100 percent certified, qualified. You tell

3 them -- hurdle to jump over. What else do you

4 want them to do? We're supposed to be

5 replicating this, not destroying it.

6 You can't -- you know, replicate but if

7 we're not talking about the education of every

8 child in Chicago, tell me what we're supposed

9 to be doing. Because education is not tearing

10 this down. You don't talk about space

11 utilization when we're talking about education.

12 This has nothing to do -- I am going to

13 be here again at 8:00 o'clock to tell -- I am

14 going to meet with Mr. Uberman (phonetic), I am

15 going to meet with the mayor, this is a fight

16 you have had a movement going on here. These

17 people will be here.

18 As I said before, because these

19 people -- some of them were not here last year

20 because their name was not on the list. No

21 school, no public school in Chicago is safe

22 under renaissance 2010 because as I said

23 earlier, that they will close a school that

24 they could -- with the new schools under

59

1 utilized, but you open the schools of 500

2 students but you close the school with 600

3 students.

4 They have a new building and they're

5 going to close -- so many schools are on the

6 list right now, there is an old school in front

7 of the new school. The new school is also

8 underutilized.

9 Why can't this school move a half mile

10 up there and -- I said closes the school. Next

11 year I bet that new school will be on the list

12 because they're also under utilized this year.

13 Now if they close the school, they're going to

14 give it to someone else, it is -- it seems to

15 be a new taxing system in the city. Find the

16 best building, then put money they put four

17 million dollars into a building, rehabbed it,

18 the archdioceses said, well, you have actually

19 paid -- you have at least 2013. They're

20 closing the building. It makes no sense.

21 When you commercialize education, it is

22 anti-students and teachers and unions.

23 You can't commercialize public

24 education and claim that you're about

60

1 education. And just because you have an

2 education does not mean you can dictate and

3 make educational policies.

4 The farther you get from the student is

5 representing what -- or work they do, the

6 farther you get from the student, the more

7 you're compensated. This is a -- I am rel -- I

8 feel like did I -- everywhere over and over

9 again we will be out here every month, every

10 month to protest what you're doing to

11 education. What you're doing to working people

12 who are sick and tired of being sick and tired

13 of what you call educational reform.

14 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Next speaker

15 Pam Nicandro-Osorio.

16 MS. NICANDRO-OSORIO: Good evening. My

17 name is Pam Nicandro-Osorio. It's P-A-M,

18 N-I-C-A-N-D-R-O, Osorio, O-S-O-R-I-O.

19 And I am against Peabody closing. I am

20 the fourth grade teacher. And I also have some

21 studies that I would like to give as evidence.

22 As we've stated, Peabody has made

23 tremendous gains over the last several years.

24 Has anyone stopped to think about how this

61

1 happened? Has anyone stopped to think that

2 Peabody is doing something right and that maybe

3 we should be a model for other schools instead

4 of being proposed to close?

5 Let's stop and look at Peabody. It is

6 like many other schools except it has a small

7 population and less than 300 students. Many

8 are doing that fact as a negative, but it is

9 actually a positive. It's the reason our

10 school is working and performing.

11 According to research, small schools

12 create intimate learning communities where

13 students are well known and to be supported by

14 adults who care about them.

15 This is true of Peabody. Because we

16 are small there is continuity throughout the

17 classrooms, which really lends itself to

18 greater student achievement and security. The

19 teachers and staff often have opportunity to

20 get to know their students before they reach

21 their classrooms and the opportunities to keep

22 working with them after they leave their

23 classrooms. With the limited amount of staff,

24 many of the state positions before and after

62

1 school for learning enrichment activities.

2 At Peabody, I am teaching either third

3 or fourth grade. But after school, I have been

4 working with first and second graders.

5 The first and second grade students are

6 able to get acquainted with me and understand

7 my expectations before they even arrive into my

8 classroom as a third or fourth grader. This

9 creates an ease for my students coming into a

10 new grade. With trust already built, I can

11 accomplish a lot at the beginning of the year.

12 Teachers of larger schools do not have that

13 luxury.

14 MS. DANIELS: Your time is up.

15 MS. NICANDRO-OSORIO: I can create a more

16 personalized education for them because I

17 already know what their strengths and --

18 MS. DANIELS: Ma'am, your time is up.

19 Thank you.

20 MS. NICANDRO-OSORIO: Just one more

21 thing.

22 There is a study that was acknowledged

23 by researchers that small schools, teachers

24 expected -- more students because they moved

63

1 them and -- better care about what happened to

2 them. And I'm sure there are students at

3 Peabody would say the same thing.

4 Thank you.

5 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: John Korbar,

6 K-O-R-B-A-R.

7 MR. KORBAR: Good evening. My name is

8 John Korbar. It's J-O-H-N, K-O-R-B-A-R and,

9 I'm a teacher at Peabody school, and I do

10 oppose the proposal.

11 As stated, our school has made several

12 improvements over the last few years. We have

13 increased our test scores dramatically. We

14 have built many partnerships with outside

15 organizations. We have created a learning

16 community that is so positive that teachers are

17 one of the lowest in the city. While many

18 families have been forced out of their

19 education, they choose to send their children

20 and drive long distances to Peabody.

21 We have educated generations of

22 families that continue to enroll their students

23 in our school year after year, decade after

24 decade. We have built a new play lot, added

64

1 new wiring for technology, updated our security

2 system, made improvements to our windows, roof,

3 and air systems, and landscaped our garden with

4 enough skill to win an award in our area.

5 We have exceeded the -- funds, research

6 states that small schools helped close the

7 student achievement gap.

8 In fact, small schools are so -- for

9 their successes, that the charter school

10 concept was based on this research.

11 Why close a successful neighborhood

12 school that is very imaged of what the city is

13 trying to create in the renaissance is 2010.

14 Currently Peabody elementary is housing

15 two buildings. It would be possible to

16 consolidate all our students into the larger

17 building and close the smaller building. This

18 smaller building --

19 MS. DANIELS: Sir, please, conclude.

20 MR. KORBAR: -- this building was built

21 as a temporary solution to ease over

22 crowding, like the early 70s. Back then with

23 fully utilized our children would not be put

24 through unduly stress and destruction of

65

1 their education at the moving -- cause

2 research on closing school should be -- gaps

3 stresses the importance of stable adult

4 relationships of a child. This is a major

5 factor in the student's capacity to engage

6 and benefit from their learning stable

7 environments where children feel they are

8 part of the community and learning process

9 discourages the disengagement that occurs and

10 element -- or excuse me, that starts with

11 elementary school, and leaves at high high

12 school dropout rates.

13 Our students should come before real

14 estate deals and political agendas.

15 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Our next

16 speaker is Vanessa Perez.

17 Do you have a permission slip? Well,

18 then can the parent speak first? Can the

19 parent identify herself and spell her name for

20 the record and acknowledge on the record that

21 you're giving permission.

22 VANESSA PEREZ: My name is Vanessa Perez

23 spelled V-A-N-E-S-S-A, P-E-R-E-Z.

24 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Okay. But I

66

1 want -- if you can have the mom or mother

2 actually identify herself.

3 INTERPRETER NAZARIO: My name is Analuisa

4 Marquez.

5 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: And she gives

6 A-N-A-L-U-I-S-A, M-A-R-Q-U-E-Z.

7 Okay. And do you as the parent give

8 permission for your daughter to give public

9 testimony which would be part of the record?

10 INTERPRETER NAZARIO: Of course, I do.

11 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Okay. Please

12 proceed.

13 VANESSA PEREZ: I am Vanessa Perez, and I

14 am very brave. The reason I don't want

15 Peabody to close is because --

16 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Excuse me. I'm

17 sorry to interrupt. Can you slow down and

18 just try and speak as clear as you can into

19 the microphone?

20 VANESSA PEREZ: I'm sorry.

21 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: That's okay.

22 VANESSA PEREZ: I think it is the best

23 school. I have planned to graduate from

24 there. I am willing to do anything in order

67

1 to keep our school open. It's close to my

2 house and the others are far away. The kids

3 that go to Peabody are sad with what's

4 happening to our school. Peabody is more

5 like a home to us.

6 These are the reasons why we are not

7 wanting it to be closed.

8 Thank you.

9 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Next speaker is

10 Debbi Winslow.

11 NEXT SPEAKER: Good evening. My name is

12 Deborah Winslow, D-E-B-O-R-A-H,

13 W-I-N-S-L-O-W.

14 I am a teacher at Peabody and I am

15 against the proposal to close our school.

16 -- opportunity studies have been quoted

17 and the facts seem it remains the same, closing

18 schools hurts students.

19 The City of Chicago studied CPS

20 students and determined that the students that

21 have moved over three times in the six years

22 can fall a full academic year behind stable

23 students. This would have the gains of rehab

24 and put our students at risk. Several of our

68

1 students came to Peabody after being displaced

2 and managed to stay on status.

3 They have just started to get

4 acclimated to our school and to our social

5 climate. They are very impressed to learn that

6 next year they will have to repeat this

7 upheaval by making new friends and new teachers

8 and adjusting to a new school. For these

9 students, closing Peabody results in two moves

10 in less than three years.

11 All said, Peabody is only one of nine

12 schools of Chicago that achieved the target set

13 by no child left behind.

14 With President Obama's recovery plan,

15 plus the biggest increase in federal money,

16 it's a shame that we would take a school that

17 is following in compliance and close it. CPS

18 is elected to receive over 5 million more

19 dollars to fund this. Why are we closing down

20 the school that is succeeding? We should be

21 modeled for the other schools that are not.

22 Unless, of course, the rumor is true

23 and we're set to be taken over by a charter

24 school. The alderman stressed that the plan of

69

1 proposing Peabody would only be a K through

2 four. That is actually the plan that the

3 startup charter school is next door to us as

4 one of our building for years.

5 It would be a shame that real estate

6 and political agendas come way before our

7 student's needs and needs of the community.

8 Thank you.

9 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: The next

10 speaker is Peter Simpson.

11 MR. SIMPSON: My name is Peter Simpson,

12 P-E-T-E-R, S-I-M-P-S-O-N.

13 I teach -- I am a teacher at Peabody as

14 well.

15 I am against the proposal.

16 I would like the hearing officers to

17 please reconsider the decisions to close

18 Peabody Elementary School. I would like to

19 remind you of all public studies even though

20 conducted by our own school board confirm a

21 strong correlation between the size of the

22 school and the -- achieves.

23 The community of Peabody is a

24 tight-knit family and has recognized the many

70

1 that walk through the door. You will see that

2 every person at the school from our security

3 officer, lunchroom personnel, office clerk, and

4 heart of our community, teachers, staff, to the

5 janitors knows a little something about each

6 student. I recognized that spirit the minute

7 that I entered Peabody as a substitute teacher

8 some nine years ago. I wanted to be a part of

9 that community.

10 Volumes of research are focused on the

11 the main magnet for the smaller school.

12 Students will not be invisible and will receive

13 personal attention, students will have less

14 exposure to violence and students have a

15 greater opportunity for teacher collaboration

16 around the students' individual needs.

17 Smaller schools are safer. The

18 national appearance on statistics report fewer

19 incidents in smaller schools. Don't all

20 students deserve the environment in which they

21 feel love, support, and safety?

22 Smaller urban schools are a great

23 neutralizer. Our students receive more

24 attention. Students have a better chance of

71

1 approaching the achievement graph. At Peabody,

2 we serve population at or below the poverty

3 level and make great strides in our

4 achievement.

5 Finally, our students have an advantage

6 and now the school board wants to close our

7 school.

8 Smaller schools are conducive to

9 work -- relationships among teaching

10 professionals.

11 Our school has an opportunity to

12 develop prosperous lessons, and can count on

13 parent and teachers to support our efforts.

14 Some alternatives please consider the --

15 MS. DANIELS: Sir, please, conclude.

16 MR. SIMPSON: -- consolidate all students

17 into one building. We have the capacity to

18 house all the classes and administrative

19 offices within the building. Consolidating

20 Carpenter to Peabody would create a school

21 within a school, and keep our school together

22 as a learning community within a whole

23 school. Thank you.

24 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: The next

72

1 speaker. Josiah Flomo. And I have a

2 permission slip.

3 JOSIAH FLOMO: Good afternoon, my name is

4 Josiah Flomo, J-O-S-I-A-H, F-L-O-M-O.

5 We are very nervous and upset about

6 Peabody closing. I would like to tell you

7 about the concerns the people in my class have

8 about the closing of our school.

9 Dashon (phonetic) is very worried about

10 getting to school safely. He has walked to

11 other schools in our area before and hasn't

12 seen crossing guards on a busy street. Getting

13 to other schools is a very long walk. He will

14 have to cross in the middle of busy streets by

15 himself and he wants to go somewhere else. He

16 wants to say that is totally not safe.

17 David came to Peabody from Anderson

18 School at the beginning of the year because

19 other schools closing. He knows a lot of

20 people at Peabody now and he really likes his

21 art classes. All the schools in the town keep

22 closing. He does not want to change schools

23 again.

24 Alex and the other kids in our class

73

1 feel a strong connection with Peabody because

2 their family members graduated from Peabody.

3 Alex told the class his family graduated from

4 Peabody, and he wants to do it, too.

5 Every kid here feels safe at Peabody.

6 There are no fights, no students will never do

7 that because Peabody is a good school. Our

8 students known to be safe, respectful, and

9 responsible.

10 Henry and -- here and are learning a

11 lot at Peabody. They talked about all the

12 interest and -- interesting and exciting things

13 they have done, like hatching chicks and

14 building volcanoes. And that teachers read

15 really great books to them. They know if they

16 will stay at Peabody, they will continue doing

17 these amazing things. Please hear us out. Do

18 not close Peabody. This is our home where we

19 feel safe and happy.

20 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Annie Camacho.

21 MS. CAMACHO: Good evening. I am Annie

22 Camacho. My name is spelled A-N-N-I-E,

23 C-A-M-A-C-H-O.

24 I am a 28-year veteran of Chicago

74

1 Public Schools. And I am proud to represent --

2 of Peabody Elementary School. I would like to

3 testify against the closing.

4 Peabody should not be closed because it

5 is a model school. It is the kind of model

6 school that the Chicago Board of Education has

7 been titled nationally on spending tons and

8 millions of dollars to replicate across the

9 City of Chicago.

10 It is the type of school that had

11 been -- traits in the research. Strong

12 educational leadership, high expectations, and

13 proven results.

14 For generations Peabody has educated

15 and continues to educate the children of hard

16 working families and -- today as the years

17 pass, Peabody exemplifies academic achievement.

18 Sixety-nine percent of Peabody students

19 meet or exceed national standers on the ISAT

20 test. This academic excellence is not an

21 accident. Peabody is the kind of small school

22 CPS is trying to establish all over the city.

23 And as you have heard tonight, the principal

24 staff, and parents have worked tirelessly to

75

1 provide much more than a core educational

2 program in a safe and supportive environment.

3 Whether it's the recruitment of

4 outstanding staff to the creation of a

5 functional school community, to the leveraging

6 of volunteer resources, and to the

7 establishment of successful private

8 partnerships, Peabody has prevailed, and

9 excelled where many have failed.

10 As others have testified, there are

11 many options to keep the enrollment up. Give

12 us more programs to attract more students.

13 Allow us to go beyond our enrollment

14 boundaries. Allow us to share facilities,

15 allow community to strengthen a critical asset.

16 Closing the school should be the last

17 option discussed, not the first.

18 Rather than shut off the lights at

19 Peabody, CPS should be shining a light on

20 Peabody.

21 Thank you.

22 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: The next

23 speaker is Anthony Lacko.

24 MR. LACKO: My name is Anthony Lacko,

76

1 A-N-T-H-O-N-Y, last name L-A-C-K-O.

2 My wife spoke earlier. I am here in

3 the opposition to the school closing. One of

4 the things I don't understand with all due

5 respect, I don't understand why the hearing

6 officer is legal in person, we need people with

7 education backgrounds. Because at one time I

8 told my wife I thought managers should be

9 someone who runs the school, it is a business.

10 But I have learned a long, hard run it is not

11 so. It's like a statement that was just made

12 recently that you can manage. Well, if that's

13 so true, then we should be able to take a

14 hotdog vendor and let him run the banks.

15 Similar things, same, analogy. And

16 utilization, I would suggest to the gentlemen

17 there that maybe they ought to utilize the

18 school at Peabody and think about whether the

19 school they could combine, or school is in

20 better shape, has a better -- plan.

21 There is a school right around the

22 corner that wants to charge. From what I

23 understand, it has been sold out and if the

24 board does agree to let the school go, then

77

1 they've learned they were three pieces of

2 silver.

3 My wife has an account with me on

4 Saturdays. We've been there at that school

5 where she has had to do work, so I know what it

6 is going about. The community here, as you

7 see, painted that school inside, not the board,

8 but the people who came from that neighborhood

9 I was part of it, so I can testify. This

10 people -- these people are very concerned about

11 this school.

12 With that, I don't know of anything

13 else I could say except that I think the school

14 should be left open. I think that what they

15 should do is utilization. See one of the

16 schools in the area that can be brought into

17 Peabody, so that they can do the job they have

18 done and demonstrate to these other schools

19 what a model school they have.

20 Thank you.

21 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Before you

22 leave, before you leave, Mr. Lacko, how are

23 you affiliated with the school, are you a

24 teacher there are or...

78

1 MR. LACKO: No, I said my wife is a

2 teacher. I am a concerned citizen.

3 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: That's fine.

4 Denice Nelson.

5 MS. NELSON: Good evening. My name is

6 Denice Nelson. D-E-N-I-C-E, N-E-L-S-O-N.

7 I am the local school council president

8 for Peabody Elementary School.

9 And I am definitely against the

10 proposal to close our school.

11 Mr. Hearing Officer, we are here united

12 to advocate for the reconsideration of Peabody

13 Elementary School closing June, 2009.

14 Our principal, assistant principal, the

15 teachers here, the staff, the students, our

16 parents, have worked very hard to get our

17 scores where they are, off of probationary

18 status.

19 I don't know how true it is, but I was

20 told that no school has ever been taken off of

21 the list when a decision has been made to close

22 the school.

23 But I can pray and I trust God. This

24 is a history making year and you, too, can be a

79

1 part of history and overturn the decision to

2 close our school. The children, the parents,

3 and staff are showing much anxiety surrounding

4 this ordeal. I had an opportunity to work at a

5 CPS model school in Hyde Park where children

6 were bused into that school to increase the

7 numbers.

8 Please, don't take our school away,

9 help us create a plan to fully utilize our

10 school, bus children into our school.

11 Thank you.

12 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Laura Montes.

13 INTERPRETER NAZARIO: Should I say just

14 what I have here?

15 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Yes. Name,

16 spell your name, and your affiliation and

17 whether you're for or against.

18 INTERPRETER NAZARIO: Should I say the

19 name in Spanish?

20 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Yes. You

21 should say it in Spanish, and the translator

22 will translate it.

23 INTERPRETER NAZARIO: Good evening. My

24 name is Laura Montes. I am a mother of my

80

1 family.

2 We're here to worry about the long

3 distance that we have to walk to take our

4 children to another school.

5 Especially in the winter, not to

6 mention the dangers when you cross a very heavy

7 traffic street.

8 You have to take many factors into

9 consideration when you consider closing our

10 school.

11 What parents like us that are -- that

12 have low income are going to do? We don't have

13 cars to move around. Our school have teachers

14 that have the highest level of academia. They

15 have shown great effort to help our children.

16 The results are for all to see, the

17 high levels achieved. We have a wonderful

18 directory. And he basically is -- she or she

19 is for the safety for our kids. He or she is

20 always aware of the well-being of our students.

21 He stays after school to make sure that

22 all the kids remain with their parents or are

23 with their parents and make sure that nobody

24 bothers them around the school.

81

1 He has done a great job with our kids.

2 We ask you, please, reconsider closing Peabody

3 school because they are doing a great job for

4 our kids.

5 We appeal to the honesty and

6 professionalism with students that are -- have

7 low income like the majority of the schools.

8 MS. DANIELS: Please, conclude.

9 INTERPRETER NAZARIO: The majority of the

10 Chicago Public Schools, please, keep Peabody

11 open so that they can continue to educate our

12 kids. Thank you for options that are not

13 close to Peabody. Thank you.

14 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Next is Lillie

15 Gonzalez.

16 MS. GONZALEZ: Good evening. My name is

17 Lillie Gonzalez, L-I-L-L-I-E, Gonzalez,

18 G-O-N-Z-A-L-E-Z.

19 I am a parent and I am very much

20 opposed to the closing of Peabody.

21 Other than the three generations I have

22 served Peabody school, I would like to learn

23 today or in the very near feature, like

24 tomorrow, who's going to take responsibility of

82

1 the safety and security of my grandson going to

2 school and getting home safe, mornings and

3 night. And I'm not just thinking about my

4 grandchildren, I'm thinking of all the children

5 at Peabody.

6 Because every child that goes to

7 Peabody may not know me by name, but they will

8 call me mom or grandma, and I don't mind

9 because I know they do it out of love and

10 because they know I'm there to secure their

11 safety.

12 All the teachers and all the principals

13 that we've had in Peabody in the past they know

14 all about the Peabody and family at Peabody.

15 I also want to know if any of you here

16 even bothered to look at all the sex offenders

17 that are out there. The drive by shootings

18 that go along with getting out of our

19 communities to get to these schools.

20 What else can I tell you other than

21 have not been said by our staff, our parents,

22 or community, concerned people like Mr. Lacko.

23 I know he has volunteered a lot of times

24 without minding to come with his wife on a

83

1 Saturday. I want to thank them. I want to

2 thank all the teachers that make this effort a

3 lot that I have had to say today or tonight has

4 already been said, so I don't want to take up

5 any time. I want to make sure that every one

6 of us gets to say what we feel. But we sure do

7 feel a lot of love from Peabody, and Peabody is

8 all of us here together tonight expressing our

9 feelings to you to reconsider the closing of

10 Peabody school.

11 Thank you. God bless you.

12 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: The next

13 speaker is, it looks like Ricessedina Ramirez

14 R-A-M-I -- it looks like, L-Y

15 R-I-C-E-S-S-E-D-I-N-A.

16 I think we need a translator. Thank

17 you.

18 MS. RAMIREZ: Good evening.

19 First of all my name is Ricessedina

20 Ramirez. The reason we are here ever since

21 1970, I've known Peabody school. My daughters

22 started there, even my grandkids. For us it

23 has been a great school is and very -- school

24 and it seems almost impossible for us that this

84

1 school could be closed -- this school to be

2 closed.

3 Go ahead and think for yourself some of

4 these kids who are switching schools right now,

5 their grades are going to go down if they

6 switch schools.

7 Please be considerate and think about

8 the transportation of these kids. If they have

9 to be moved how they have to be moved in a

10 truck, in a bus, think about the economy today.

11 We wish to get an answer and we wish to know

12 why -- what is the reason why you are doing

13 it -- going to close the school.

14 Have they sold it? Are they going to

15 demolish it? I don't know? I mean, that

16 school if it remains cannot be just left alone.

17 I ask you to, please, consider all

18 these students, you as parents and those of you

19 who are going to be parents think about what's

20 going to happen to them. For me, this is a

21 very prestigious school. There are teachers

22 who have worked very, very hard. I mean, my

23 kids I have known them ever since I have been

24 there.

85

1 They're very courageous and they care

2 about the parents and the kids. And I, please,

3 ask you to think about these children.

4 Thank you very much.

5 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: The next

6 speaker is Rosalia, R-O-S-A.

7 MS. NAVA: It's Rosalva.

8 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Oh, Rosalva --

9 MS. NAVA: Good evening. My name is

10 Rosalva Nava. The name is spelled

11 R-O-S-A-L-V-A, Nava is N-A-V-A.

12 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Actually then

13 this is somebody else. Rosalia

14 C-A-R-L-E-T-T-E. Is there somebody else?

15 MS. CASTILLO: C-A-S-T-I. It looked like

16 somebody threw an E in it. Okay. I

17 apologize.

18 Mrs. Nava, you're coming some other

19 time, so I go -- go ahead. Can you please

20 spell your name, please.

21 My name is Rosalia Castillo,

22 R-O-S-A-L-I-A, C-A-S-T-I-L-L-O.

23 I am opposed to closing the school.

24 I worked with Peabody for 12 years. My

86

1 kids went to Peabody the first seven years. I

2 watched my son went to school for Peabody. And

3 he is now -- he was a police officer, now he's

4 a detective.

5 Only because he studied school there

6 and he begin his education there. So now he

7 went up to detective.

8 So Peabody has to be doing something

9 good, obviously.

10 So anyway, I am committed now in the

11 community. I am concerned like everybody else

12 and these kids going so far to school. Most of

13 the parents work and these kids have to go to

14 school by their self.

15 What about when the weather is real

16 bad. In summer time when we have all those

17 crazy drivers out there and these kids crossing

18 the school -- I mean crossing the street.

19 This is something to be concerned

20 about.

21 So I appreciate if you guys consider

22 Peabody can't be closed. Peabody is ours and

23 belongs to the neighborhood.

24 Thank you.

87

1 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Nuemi Malego.

2 INTERPRETER NAZARIO: My name is Nuemi

3 Malego, N-U-E-M-I, M-A-L-E-G-O.

4 I have been a member of the counsel for

5 20 years of Peabody.

6 My kids go to Peabody as well as my

7 grandkids. It breaks my heart because my

8 four-year-old grandkids just started at

9 Peabody. It breaks my heart that she's so

10 young she has only been in school for four or

11 five months, and he's already crying for

12 Peabody. What do you think that my daughter

13 cries because she feels safe at home -- at

14 school.

15 My two daughters already have pet names

16 and play around with the names of their

17 teachers at Peabody. I am not only worried

18 about my granddaughters, I am worried about all

19 the kids at Peabody.

20 The teachers have been known for so

21 long and they are going to have no jobs. They

22 have bills just like we do and just like you

23 do.

24 Right now I feel like there's somebody

88

1 in intensive therapy that's how bad the pain is

2 that I feel knowing that they're going to close

3 Peabody.

4 MS. DANIELS: Please conclude.

5 INTERPRETER NAZARIO: We hope that you

6 tell us what's going to happen or tell us if

7 our school has to be sold or tell us what's

8 happening.

9 I'm very proud of Peabody school

10 because I have a daughter --

11 MS. DANIELS: Your time is up. Thank

12 you.

13 INTERPRETER NAZARIO: I am against the

14 closing of Peabody, and I hope that you take

15 it into consideration what we have said here

16 today.

17 Thank you.

18 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Rosalva Nava.

19 MS. NAVA: Hello, again.

20 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Go ahead.

21 MS. NAVA: Good evening. My name is

22 Rosalva Nava, and I am a parent from Peabody

23 school. I resided in the community of

24 Peabody for at least three years until I was

89

1 forced to sell my home. I live now in the

2 area. I travel every morning to wake up at

3 6:30 to drive to school. We wake up in the

4 morning, we rush, we leave the house at 7:00

5 to drive to Peabody an hour-and-a-half we

6 drive to Peabody because that's what my kids

7 love.

8 Peabody is in a great location. It's

9 very safe. And I ask what will ensure that our

10 kids go into other schools overcrowded -- our

11 kids will not have the quality education that

12 they have in Peabody.

13 Peabody had busing. Peabody has kids

14 coming to Peabody on the bus. And we did meet

15 some quota of kids going to Peabody.

16 I know and they -- I know there's a lot

17 of parents that would love to bus their kids to

18 Peabody school. If given the opportunity, they

19 would love to have their kids bused to Peabody.

20 Peabody is a great example of success.

21 The law is passed that the "no child left

22 behind" is perfect for Peabody School. Peabody

23 --

24 MS. DANIELS: Please, conclude.

90

1 MS. NAVA: -- quality education, it is

2 emotionally stable, and has a great

3 environment, and closing our school is

4 exposing our kids to dangerous gangs and drug

5 dealers.

6 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Okay. Is it

7 Nayeli Flores Denise Perez. I am not sure if

8 it's one name or two.

9 Do you have permission slips from

10 parents? Are your parents here? She can come

11 up. Do we need a Spanish translator? Okay.

12 If she can identify herself.

13 INTERPRETER NAZARIO: My name is --

14 Flores.

15 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Are you the

16 parent of both of these children?

17 INTERPRETER NAZARIO: No, just Flores.

18 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Okay.

19 And do you give permission for Nayeli

20 Flores to provide public testimony today?

21 INTERPRETER NAZARIO: Yes. I want her to

22 express what she feels and what her school

23 means to her.

24 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Oh, okay. And,

91

1 Denise Perez, is your mom -- that's your mom.

2 Okay. Can she also identify herself for the

3 record and...

4 INTERPRETER NAZARIO: My name is

5 (simultaneous colloquy) -- A-M-A-R-K-U-E-Z.

6 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: And are you the

7 parent of the Denise Perez?

8 INTERPRETER NAZARIO: Yes.

9 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: And you

10 authorize Denise Perez to give her permission

11 to provide public testimony today?

12 INTERPRETER NAZARIO: Yes, I do.

13 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Okay. Thank

14 you then.

15 Nayeli and Denise I will let you both

16 go together, I guess.

17 NAYELI FLORES: Good evening. My name is

18 Nayeli Flores, N-A-Y-E-L-I, F-L-O-R-E-Z.

19 I am at Peabody elementary and I am an

20 eighth grader.

21 DENISE PEREZ: Good evening. My name is

22 Denise Perez. I am a seventh grader at

23 Peabody, D-E-N-I-S-E, P-E-R-E-Z.

24 We are both against some of the reasons

92

1 that we ask that our school not close is

2 because Peabody is not just a school, it is

3 where I grow up and where I know everybody.

4 NAYELI FLORES: It is a second home for a

5 lot of us and closing Peabody would not only

6 break our hearts but make it hard for all the

7 students who love the school to find and get

8 transportation every day. It will effect

9 students' safety too. Also, our school has

10 improved in test scores throughout the last

11 seven years. Our test scores are above

12 average.

13 DENISE PEREZ: As a 7th grader it really

14 affects me not being able to graduate from

15 Peabody, since I have been there for the past

16 seven years. I am sure students will find it

17 hard to adapt to a new school. We're not

18 asking you for favors just to prove us right.

19 NAYELI FLORES: I know I am an eighth

20 grader, but we don't want our amazing

21 teachers and staff to lose their jobs or to

22 not be at our graduation. Our school had

23 been open for one hundred years it cannot be

24 closed. You have to -- all of us. It's the

93

1 best school in the neighborhood.

2 DENISE PEREZ: These teachers here have

3 families --

4 MS. DANIELS: Please, conclude.

5 DENISE PEREZ: -- just like you. And

6 they have families too. We are students, not

7 numbers.

8 NAYELI FLORES: Please don't close our

9 school.

10 Thank you.

11 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Next speaker is

12 Imelda Caro, C-A-R-O, Imelda. Okay. I

13 didn't see you.

14 MS. CARO: Hello. My name is Imelda

15 Caro, spelled I-M-E-L-D-A, C-A-R-O. I am a

16 parent and I am against the proposal.

17 I am here with my daughter begging not

18 to close Peabody school. If the school is

19 under utilization, I think that we can bring

20 students from other overcrowded schools to

21 Peabody. Peabody is a good school. It has

22 been increasing the size of test scores for the

23 last eight years.

24 Three generations of my family have

94

1 been at Peabody school. I am the second

2 generation and my son graduated from Peabody in

3 2005 and my daughter, who if you permit will

4 graduate in 2003 are the third generation.

5 Please reconsider and don't close Peabody

6 school.

7 Thank you.

8 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Next speaker is

9 Alejandra...

10 INTERPRETER NAZARIO: Good evening. My

11 name is Alejandra. I am a mother of five

12 daughters. Three of them go to Peabody

13 School.

14 I am worried because I don't want my

15 kids to go to a different school or be sent to

16 different schools. And you can't imagine the

17 gigantic pain of seeing my daughters crying.

18 I am begging for their school not to be

19 closed. The oldest one is telling me that her

20 dream is to graduate from Peabody and you

21 can give her the opportunity. In the name of

22 my daughters, I am here to ask that you value

23 the excellent school that it is and Peabody

24 will always be.

95

1 Thank you.

2 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Next speaker is

3 Elia Aguirre.

4 MS. AGUIRRE: Hello. My name is Elia

5 Aguirre, E-L-I-A, A-G-U-I-R-R-E. I am a

6 former student from Peabody. And I am

7 presently a parent and I am totally opposed

8 to the closing of Peabody.

9 Thirty-four years ago, I graduated from

10 Peabody School. I attended the school from

11 kindergarten to eighth grade. My parents

12 gave -- never moved from that neighborhood so

13 that we would not have to change schools. They

14 knew we were happy and safe and learning well.

15 We learned English as a second language, and I

16 continue to further my education because

17 Peabody showed me that I could accomplish

18 anything I put my mind at -- to.

19 They fostered my creativity in how to

20 help others. The commitment of these teachers

21 is unbelievable. My fourth grade teacher

22 Mrs. Lacko is still there. When I signed up my

23 daughter, I knew that that was the best school.

24 I think of Mrs. Lacko every day that I

96

1 get chance to do something creative at work or

2 at home.

3 I want my daughter, which is my baby, I

4 have four children, two big ones and this is my

5 baby, I want her to do good for the little one.

6 Everyone else has done great, and I want to be

7 fair to my baby. I want her to be blessed with

8 everything that I have -- all of the children

9 that she knows. She loves her friends and --

10 MS. DANIELS: Please, conclude.

11 MS. AGUIRRE: -- whether she's sick, she

12 goes to school. I want to tell you my

13 79-year old father walks the kids to school

14 every day whether it rains or shines, so that

15 I could make it to work on time with the

16 exception of having my hour of lunch.

17 If she has to go to another school,

18 will I have to choose to lose my job because I

19 can't make it on time, or will I have my 79-

20 year old father driving her and other children

21 that don't have a way of getting there?

22 Please, keep Peabody open.

23 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Norine

24 Gutekanst G-U-T-E-K-A-N-S-T.

97

1 MS. GUTEKANST: Good afternoon. My name

2 is Norine Gutekanst, G-U-T-E-K-A-N-S-T.

3 I am a teacher in the Chicago Public

4 Schools and I am a member of Core.

5 I have been very moved by listening to

6 the testimony today. I -- first of all I want

7 to say that you, the hearing officer, I believe

8 your name is Mr. Vazquez.

9 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Correct.

10 MS. GUTEKANST: You're going to make the

11 recommendation to close or not to close

12 Peabody and you're a lawyer.

13 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: Correct.

14 MS. GUTEKANST: If this hearing decision

15 were based on educational reasons, Peabody

16 would be strengthened, it would not be

17 closed.

18 Right now I think everybody who is in

19 this room believes that the Board of Education

20 should be nourishing, successful small learning

21 communities. They should not be destroying

22 them.

23 In fact, the board only really likes

24 the small learning communities when they're new

98

1 schools or when they're chartered schools where

2 the teachers are unknown to the students and

3 where the teachers don't have any experience.

4 And that's probably what's going to be coming

5 into the Peabody building.

6 It's interesting because right now the

7 board is very heavily recruiting for this

8 Saturday new school's expo at Soldier Field. I

9 wonder how many people in the room have

10 actually got a phone call urging them to come

11 to that meeting.

12 Who exactly is being offered a choice

13 here? I don't hear anybody saying that they're

14 choosing the discretion of Peabody. I hear

15 quite the opposite. In fact, I believe that I

16 heard Mr. Dispensa say that 77 families choose

17 to come from out of the district to attend

18 Peabody.

19 You're denying choice to the families,

20 to the good families of Peabody Elementary.

21 Who has choice and who has opportunity?

22 If this board and if you cared about

23 opportunity and choice for the community and

24 families of Peabody, and if --

99

1 MS. DANIELS: Your time is up.

2 MS. GUTEKANST: -- valued, this school

3 would not be closed. It would be

4 strengthened.

5 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: It is now

6 7:30, and we still have three speakers to

7 speak. I am going to call on one more unless

8 the rest -- I will tell you we got Kugler,

9 Silbar and a Mr. Burnett, Marvin Burnett. At

10 this point we can -- yeah, we should --

11 MR. M. RODRIGUEZ: Mr. Hearing Officer,

12 you must remember the community meeting

13 that's going to take place.

14 HEARING OFFICER VAZQUEZ: There is a

15 community meeting as well. That's

16 scheduled -- just let me announce that one.

17 That was scheduled on February the 9th from

18 7:30 to 9:30 at the Lozano school. So that

19 will give everybody else an opportunity to

20 speak. I do apologize because, you know,

21 there was a reason why we were trying to

22 limit everybody to two minutes.

23 There are a number of people who are

24 waiting to enter board chambers from -- for the

100

1 Carpenter hearing.

2 Now at this point, I'm going to

3 conclude the hearing. I thank you all for

4 coming. I do also want to remind you, whoever

5 was not here can either come to the community

6 hearing or provide public testimony, written

7 public testimony by fax. Again, leaving it

8 either today or by fax at (773)553-1769.

9 Thank you.

10 * * * FURTHER PROCEEDINGS HAD NOT * * *



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