Lafayette Parents, Students Overtake Lafayette Elementary School Classroom

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - EducationNine Lafayette Elementary parents and students have just peacefully occupied a school classroom, at 2714 W. Augusta Blvd., to demand Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his handpicked Chicago Board of Education reverse the school’s closing.

“Closing Lafayette will kill our neighborhood and our families,” says Rousemary Vega, who is occupying a classroom at Lafayette Elementary. “We demand that this school stay open. We demand to keep our music programs, and our special ed program. We’re not leaving until this school is saved.”

The Humboldt Park neighborhood school serves Pre-K to eighth grade students. Lafayette School focuses on fine arts and music education, boasting an award-winning string orchestra in partnership with Merit School of Music, bilingual classrooms, and an autism cluster site. The school is home to 442 students in 2012, 97.7 percent from low-income homes. Emanuel and the Board of Education voted to close the school as one of 50 public school closures citing “underutilization,” population decline, and astronomical building maintenance costs. Those claims have been refuted by individual CPS auditors, the media, parents, and community members, who have all been ignored by Emanuel and the unelected Board of Education.

“We are at Lafayette Elementary to support the students and parents who are fighting to keep this school open,” says Denise Bisley, a parent from the Von Humbolt school. “Shame on Mayor Emanuel, and the Chicago Board of Education. This is a national problem. President Obama told us change was coming, and his buddy Mayor Emanuel has changed the city – closing our clinics, our schools, and wrecking our children’s futures.”

CPS and Emanuel propose Lafayette students be displaced to Chopin Elementary, seven blocks away, where the future of the Merit School of Music program is uncertain, as is the program for autistic children. Emanuel and the Board of Education have faced severe public backlash and outcry against the school closures.

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