BOARDWATCH... Board's May 2018 meeting faces major issues with evasions...

Janice Jackson (hands folded) is the latest "Chief Executive Officer" of the Chicago Board of Education. She is seen here during the May 2018 meeting of the Board, with Board attorney Joe Moriarty on here left.The Chicago Board of Education (BOE) held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, May 23, 2018, at 42 West Madison Street, Chicago, lower level. All current Board members were present: Mark Furlong, Alejandra Garza, Jaime Guzman, Dr. Mahalia Hines, and Gail Ward. Also present were Frank Clark, Board President, Janice Jackson, Chief Executive Officer, Joseph Moriarty, Chief Counsel, LaTonya McDade, Chief Education Officer, and Elizabeth Keenan, Chief of Diverse Learners Support and Services (special education).

Departing Honorary Student Board Member William Cryer was recognized for his service to the Board this year. New honorary student Board Member for 2018-2019, Aysha Ahmed, was introduced to the group.

Varsity Singers from Lindblom Science and Math Academy performed during the introductory excellence section of the meeting. They sang an adaptation of "Precious Lord" by Thomas A. Dorsey, Father of Gospel Music, long associated with Pilgrim Baptist Church. The audience was informed of the tragic circumstances leading to the composition of "Precious Lord" by Thomas Dorsey.

Students wore t-shirts of the colleges they plan to attend.

CEO Jackson informed everyone that the new graduation requirements do impact the arts. She said that raising the burden for graduation rates does impact music, but that there will be room for the arts in course requirements with three electives allowed in five years.

Next, one of two members of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) student advisory council spoke about how the council has him speak before groups. Two policy suggestions were made: a voice is needed on voting on the school budget and students would be helped to understand the budget by attending training sessions.

LaTonya McDade, Chief Education Officer (CEO), then spoke of a Chef Competition in Pilsen in which a student, who cooked veal chops, received a prize and was the first ever to be the winner of Master Chef, Jr. Students who took part earned one year ormore of college credit.

Board President remarked that the quality of programs at CPS is of the highest.

CEO Jackson talked about Special Education and said that some changes were done too quickly and without the involvement of parents and teachers. She said tat the 2013 process was imperfect and now families will feel respected and valued. She added she was proud of the CPS investment in science.

Then. Arne Rivera, Chief Operating Officer (COO), mentioned that 200 schools have been inspected for health issues since the last Board meeting, with results from 150, so far. He added that improvement has been shown.

CEdO McDade visited Washington High School a month ago and met with a very respectful group of students, who were here to speak today.

CEO Jackson remarked that sometimes capital issues contributed to health problems (rodents).

At this point, Board President Clark reminded everyone to avail themselves of the board website,

Board Secretary Estela Beltran then informed everyone that the next Board meeting will be held Wednesday, June 27, with sign-up beginning on Monday June 25 at 10 a.m. and ending on Tuesday, June 26 at 5 a.m. or whenever all slots are filled. Next, she explained the rules for public participation.

The first to speak was Michael Brunson, Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) Recording Secretary, who spoke about discipline issues involving students and teachers. He mentioned constant fights, students walking out, profane language, theft of teachers' property, and weapons. He added that these were not isolated events and education is not just about test scores. He said that uncivil contact is not welcomed by employers and education is a bulkwark against crime. He noticed that there are not enough adults in the buildings and that this contributes to problems. He also said it was not just about reducing stress among staff and that CPS has a legal duty to address these problems. He asked that Board to reverse the deep budget cuts. He added that Special Education was being short-changed, at the charter schools as well. He quoted, "Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold" from the poem "The Second Coming" by the Irish poet William Butler Yeats, in reference to current conditions at CPS.

Board President referred this situation to a staff member.

The first public speaker was Danielle Giles, who spoke of her young son at Bell School, who wanted to be a police officer in the future. She said that not one of the Special Education team members knew what an aural program was and yet they were ready to force him out of Bell. She said that when she put a stop to that, retaliation followed. She responded to CEO Jackson's inquiry about an attorney, that she did not have an attorney. She said that Board attorneys beat down on parents to receive fewer services, especially people of color. She mentioned the Brown vs Board of Education decision regarding "separate but equal" and remarked that this situation is separate but unequal. She added that it's the weakest that we are supposed to take care of. She also said that she was a friend of CEO Jackson and that it's hard to talk here to friends, but told her, you can change direction.

Board Member Dr. Hines commented that this sounded like a beat down of the Board.

CEdO McDade said that she would personally investigate, visit the school, meet with Danielle Giles, and get more details.

Board Member Furlong asked, "Can someone meet with her before she leaves here?"

The first public speaker was Debra Hass who spoke of security and privacy issues. She spoke of information being handed over to companies, House Bill (HB) 1295 being scuttled in Springfield, and what information is being collected by Facebook.

CEO Jackson said that we are monitoring this closely and want to work with you.

Next to speak was Mary Hughes of Raise Your Hand (RYH) and a CPS parent and volunteer. Addressing CEO Jackson, she said, You worked under Claypool. Claypool ran thru illegal procedures." She added, "You are denying culpability." She mentioned an Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) concern; she said that we use temporary nurses to take care of students, but this is unreliable. She said she wanted a system put in place that established a long term relationship of the nurse to the school. She added that we are supposed to be caring for the students.

Maria Zavala, of Acero Cisneros Network, spoke in Spanish which was then translated. She expressed a need for more equitable funding at charter schools.

Carmen Valdez, also of Acero Cisneros, with a children in first and seventh grades on honor roll, advocated on behalf of charter schools.

Craig Burns, who went to Gary Comer College Prep in the Noble Network, said he was proud of the collaboration between public and charter schools. He said he once used to procrastinate, but not once he attended Gary Comer.

Natalia Blance, a Noble school graduate, said she was the first in her family to receive a high school diploma. She added that her high school counsellor personally drove her to her school of choice, Grand Valley College.

Olamide Babatunde, of the Noble Network, said that the Senior Send-Off was today and invited the Board to attend

Board President Clark remarked that education, at a minimum, should provide the ability to function in society. He asked, "Are these people working, able to take care of their families? What happens to high school graduates who attend college after high school?" The focus has been, "Are all high school graduates going to college?" The focus should be, "Are they working?"

Joanne Maldonado, of Yates Elementary, affirmed that more resources, staff, and an elected school board are needed, She added that May is the Budget meeting. She spoke of positions being closed and one monitor not being enough.

CEdO McDade mentioned that we're looking at schools experiencing excessive budget cuts.

The next group of speakers attend Washington High School.

Kaylee Wilcopolski welcomed the Board.

Kimberley Esquval spoke of bad health conditions that happened at the same time as standardized tests were being taken: cold temperatures, tiles falling. windows nailed shut, fire hazards, latches broken on windows, a window that fell on a teacher's hand, windows that could not be opened, lack of space in a building that used to be an elementary school, water like a waterfall on the wall, a child who slipped on this water, and paint which was applied over mold. She concluded, these are big health issues.

Chris Chavez, a freshman, referred to the line from the movie, "Field of Dreams,"... "If you build it, they will come." He talked about increasing class size and remarked that the school was falling apart and students were coming anyway. He added, "Should where I live affect the quality of education?"

Abigail Alvarez stated that the roof was beyond repair and causes health problems. She concluded that we need a safe and healthy environment.

CEdO McDade thanked the group for the invitation to visit.

COO Rivera commented on roof issues and masonry items.

Board Member Furlong mentioned prioritizing critical needs.

Board President Clark said that we are highly aware of the deficiencies in the capital budget, but some situations are worse than others.

Board Member Dr, Hines spoke of the impact of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds.

The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Ronald DeNard mentioned the issuing of capital bonds.

After the Washington High School students left, the next to speak was Ubaldo Aguilar, Spry School, who chose to speak in Spanish, which was then translated. He spoke of his child having Tourette Syndrome and the discrimination against Latinos. He remarked, "Children deserve attention and respect."..."What kind of a society are we creating? He said that classes and services are being cut. He asked the Board not to discriminate against those with different capacities. He asked the Board to restore the services canceled to his son.

Natasha Erskine. of Veterans for Peace, spoke of the perils of militarization in lieu of education. She said that there were over 9,000 students in Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) in Chicago, the most militarized school system in the nation. She, herself, was in ROTC and in the military. She said it didn't serve her moral and personal well-being. She spoke of Adam Down, from Minnesota, who had a military family and a military upbringing. She said he spent 12 years in uniform, but is now in Veterans for Peace, to heal the wounds of war. She added that people of color are most targeted by recruiters. She asked the Board to stop normalizing the military, remove ROTC, and start more choirs instead.

Greg White, of LEARN charter school, thanked the Board for the early budget and requested that the Board not cut our budget. He said that we need certainty of funding, stability, and predictability.

Marianne Lalonde, of Uplift High School and a member of the Uptown community, spoke of obstacles and a lack of responsiveness to emails. She looked forward to a strong relationship between the community and school. She cited the school's needs and said the student body which was made up mostly of students of color needs full resources.

Rosalina Miramontez, of Washington Elementary, had a complaint in translated about a very strict teacher who affected her son and caused a once happy boy to become nervous, sad, and to chew and bite on his collar. She said her son feels the teacher doesn't like him and that she embarrassed him in front of the whole class. She said the teacher said he could not go to the bathroom except with the group.

Board President Clark asked if he was being bullied.

The parent replied, "Yes." She said the teacher is able to speak Spanish, but won't

CEdO McDade asked the parent if she had engaged with the network. She said that we will set up a meeting.

The parent responded that she was interested in home schooling him.

Sarah Hernandez, of Washington Elementary, said that the school was supposed to be PreK-2, the carpet needs replacement, she is concerned about bullying, teachers are avoiding her, and staff who can speak Spanish are not doing so.

David Robinson, the Director for Manufacturing Renaissance, said the there are 22,000 vacant manufacturing jobs in the area and that he wanted to connect high quality of education and skills. He spoke of Bowen, Prosser, and Austin, and said that we can do more to expand opportunities for our students. He spoke of the success of Terrence Wilson who is now a tool-and-dye worker.

Board President Clark asked him, "Should CPS be training students after graduation to go into manufacturing jobs?"

Elizabeth Herring, on the Local School Council (LSC) at Bret Harte, said that the Pre-K program at Harte has been cut; it is now switching to a full-day program. She said that this was causing a negative change to the school and she wants a restoration of 40 full-day slots for Pre-K. She added that the Pre-K process for application needs help.

CEdO McDade agreed the website should be fixed.

Clarence Carson, of McDade Classical School wants an expansion of 7-8.

Eli Washington of Chesterfield also wants McDade Classical to be expanded to include 7-8.

Sheri Davis, of McDade Classical also wants the expansion. She added that McDade was a jewel, a well-kept secret.

CEO Jackson agreed that this was a big priority and that we need funding for capital projects.

Board President Clark said that we can't solve the problem today; we don't have answers today.

LaTanya Jackson, of Bronzevile Scholastic Institute, said that 15 adults brutally and premeditatedly attacked her family on school property and that she has doctor's reports. The parent who struck her daughter will be in court on May 30. She said her daughter was not allowed to transfer to a selective enrollment school to assure her safety.

Security OfficerJadine Chou said she was aware of the safety issue and the parent altercation and is working with the network.

Board Member Furlong asked about the request for a transfer.

The parent said the request was made the same day.

Angela Butler was concerned about recurring issues affecting the homeless. She said there had been no resolution and the children were still not being returned to school. She mentioned that they get grades even though they do not attend, that they were "ghost students." She added she was told that we will get help, but they have not gotten help.

She was told by Elizabeth Keenan, Chief of Diverse Learner Support and Services, that we will look into it and try and resolve it.

CEO Jackson added comments and referred her to staff.

Chris Galinato spoke of the gun violence infiltrating the schools. He said he was a product of CPS, a west-sider in the Humboldt Park and Austin neighborhoods. He spoke of a peace curriculum being used in India and Africa that works and a June 7th Peace Conference. He said that we need to develop a culture of peace versus a culture of war and we need to get rid of ROTC.

Dr. Sarah Dennis, of Loyola University, spoke of the genocide of native peoples. She said that Columbus Day should be renamed Indigenous Peoples Day and that charter schools need to be closed. She also asked that the attack on black teachers be stopped.

Mark Kazy, of Pritzker Elementary, mentioned that the washrooms are now locked; sometimes, the students are locked inside which violates city codes. He said the principal knows that this is not safe and the washrooms are now unclocked. He added that the dead bolts need to be removed.

Natasha Dunn, of King College Prep, spoke of repairs, issues with the LSC, wanting the principal out, being unhappy with the replacement for the principal, and the fact that some LSC members had not completed LSC training in the required time. She added that she fears the best interests of the students are at stake and she doesn't approve of the new principal contract. She alluded to a "rogue" LSC.

Chris Baehrend, of CTU-ACTS (charter schools), spoke of the new funding formula building equity in the schools. He said that he represents 34 schools. He added that he hasn't been able to determine where the funds are going and that there are shortages. He mentioned that 11 of 12 contracts (for charter schools) are being negotiated together. He concluded that the money needs to go into the classroom.

Bobby Townsend, of Dyett, spoke of the use of the recreation center which was promised to the school. She wants the center/pool open to the community. She said that the pool water is too cold in summer for those with arthritis. She concluded by following the president's suggestion to "make noise" when she said you've heard of the Black Panthers and the Pink Panthers; well, I'm representing the Gray Panthers.

Mihir Garud, of Pilsen, said that there was less accountability in the charter schools and operators in charters need to be held accountable, charters got a bump in funding, and resources should go into the classrooms.

George Blakemore remarked that nothing had changed in five years. He spoke of the need for a study of Chicago as a sanctuary city with illegal immigrants, not even speaking English here (at the Board meeting). He talked about those speaking Spanish having four minutes for Spanish and then the translation, while other speakers are limited to two minutes. He spoke of the negative effect on the budget. He added, "You have funding for children of illegal immigrants." He went on to talk about this being illegal and breaking the law. He complained about the firing of black teachers. He said men and women who were enslaved need sanctuary. He said he would come again to speak at the Board and then decried the mis-education of blacks as separate and unequal.

After several remarks by Board members, Board Member Dr. Hines read the motion allowing the Board to go into closed session.