Despite passionate opposition from parents and community members, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) officials are moving forward with plans to fire and replace all of Walter Q. Gresham Elementary's staff members.
“We continue to believe that turnaround ... is the best path forward for Gresham, its students and the school community,” Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale stated in a letter sent to the school Thursday.
The staff at Gresham will be let go after Friday, the last day of school before summer break begins.
The Chicago Board of Education voted in April to turnaround Gresham, located in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood, and two other academically struggling schools. The schools will be handed over to the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL). All staff members at the three schools are slated to be fired, and AUSL will hire on new principals, faculty and staff. Read more about the three turnarounds here.
Community members, parents and others have been fighting against the school turnarounds since they were proposed in late March. Last month, parents and Gresham's current, and long-time, principal, Diedrus Brown, staged a sit-in at the school in protest of the pending turnaround. The group ended the sit-in once they were granted a meeting with CPS leaders to discuss their concerns. The school supporters reportedly had that meeting with district CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and Vitale earlier this month.
After learning that Gresham will not be spared from a turnaround, Anthony Jackson, a leader with Gresham Parents, Students and Community United for Change, said the "fight is never over" to save the school.
"We will continue to fight next year,’’ he told the Chicago Sun-Times.