Piccolo Elementary parents and supporters are declaring their occupation a success. After occupying a portion of the west side elementary school for close to 24 hours, parents have received a promise from Chicago Board of Education Vice President Jesse Ruiz to meet Monday regarding alternatives to the scorched-earth "Turnaround" plan. That plan would fire every teacher, school clerk, janitor, and even lunchroom worker at the school in order to bring in replacements from the private, politically-connected AUSL (Academy for Urban School Leadership).
The parents held a press conference at 4:00PM to declare victory in their fight to win a meeting with the Board of Education, to thank supporters, and to head home after calling attention to the sabotage of Piccolo School through disinvestment.
Parents, community members and teachers plan events Monday through Wednesday to continue the fight against the failed "Turnaround" strategy the Board of Education has pursued for over decade.
Angry parents and protestors have called off their occupation of an underperforming elementary school on Chicago’s Northwest Side after they were promised a meeting with education officials before a vote on the future of the school next week.
The protesters had spent Friday night and Saturday camped out at Brian Piccolo Elementary Specialty School, where teaching staff could learn this week whether they’ll be shown the door.
But Saturday afternoon, a member of the Board of Education met with them inside the school and agreed to grant the protesters a meeting with the entire board, said Rachel Perrotta of Occupy Chicago, a group demonstrating with the parents.
The meeting had been one of the parents’ demands while occupying the building, Perrotta said
Earlier Saturday, 13 protestors had remained inside the school in Humboldt Park, with Chicago Public Schools officials refusing to let them bring food in.
Another 50 — many of whom had pitched tents — were outside the school at 1040 N. Keeler.
Asked whether they were trying to starve the protestors into leaving the building, spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler responded, “They have been reminded that they’re welcome to leave any time they want.”
Activists end sit-in at Piccolo school
“We’re satisfied,” said Cecile Carroll, one of the protesters, who works with the community group Blocks Together. “We’re not totally happy, but we wanted a chance to state our case to a member of the board, have a meaningful discussion, and we got that.”
The Board of Education is scheduled to vote Wednesday on whether to designate Piccolo a “turnaround” school, which would allow the nonprofit Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) broad leeway to fire teachers and the principal while reshaping the curriculum.
AUSL, which has close ties with CPS leadership, has achieved growing influence in Chicago school policies.