School closings present massive security concern for many - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

School closings present massive security concern for many

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Moving thousands of students to new schools in new neighborhoods presents a massive security problem for CPS. Parents and gang experts say even grade school students have to be concerned about crossing borders.

OFFICIAL LIST:  Click HERE to see list of 61 CPS school buildings to close

Students leaving Emmet Elementary on Chicago's West Side clutched what is essentially a ticket to another school Thursday.

"This is applications for another school ‘cause our school is getting closed down," Ayana Burke said about the paper in her hand.

In this high-crime neighborhood, where vacant buildings dot the landscape and gang territories change from block to block, choosing another school isn't just about the ABC's.

"All the schools combine together there's gonna be a whole bunch of problems," says Joy Fitzpatrick.

"They gonna be fighting," says Lettrice Jamison. "The gangs gonna be worse than it is now. I don't know why they want to close the school."

Many point to the 2009 videotaped murder of Derrion Albert, who had recently transferred to Fenger Academy High School from another school. Albert apparently walked into the middle of a gang turf war unaware of the danger.

Bishop James Duke of Liberation Christian Center in West Englewood says it's important the district have a game plan before schools open next fall.

"On paper it may look like four or five blocks, but in reality it's a whole other community," Duke says.

"Over the summer do some gang disaffiliation, conflict resolution before we put them in the same atmosphere or in august we'll have a world of trouble."

Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett says they plan to defuse potential conflicts by pouring more money into the district's safe passage program.

"It means there will be people, faith-based organizations as well as community organizations and parent organizations who will absolutely guard the streets if you will, during the morning when children are going to school and in the evening when children are coming back," Byrd-Bennett explained.

Some parents we talked to believe the school closings will actually improve their children's safety; providing them a ticket to a better environment.

"I feel it would be a great opportunity for her to get outside of the neighborhood school and go to a better school," says mother Regina Salter.

Security guards at one school earmarked for closing told FOX 32 they hope to land at another school.

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