Measure to Pull Police From Chicago Schools Blocked

Video: Our Spotlight Politics team discusses the fight over police in schools and more. With Amanda Vinicky, Paris Schutz, Heather Cherone and Carol Marin. 

An ordinance that would terminate the $33 million contract between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Police Department and remove school resource officers from schools failed to advance Wednesday.

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Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th Ward) — a former police sergeant who is Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s hand-picked chair of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee — used a parliamentary procedure to send the so-called Police Free Schools Ordinance into legislative purgatory.

Seconds after Alds. Roderick Sawyer (6th Ward), Jeanette Taylor (20th Ward) and Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th Ward) introduced the measure, Taliaferro called for it to be considered by the City Council’s Education Committee rather than the Public Safety Committee, as requested by its sponsors.

That conflict automatically sends the measure to the City Council’s Rules Committee, where it would take 26 votes to send it to a committee for a substantive hearing and vote.

Supporters of the push to remove sworn police officers from Chicago Public Schools vowed to continue their campaign, which gained new life after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody prompted calls for funding earmarked for police departments to be reduced.

Lightfoot said again Wednesday after the City Council meeting that she does not support removing police from Chicago schools.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for me or any member of City Council to usurp the authority of the duly elected Local School Council,” Lightfoot said.

All of Local School Councils voted in September to keep police officers in their schools. 

If the proposal does not get a hearing within 60 days, supporters could invoke Rule 41, which permits an item to be called for a vote if it wins a majority vote of all aldermen.

The measure calls for the $33 million used to pay for school resource officers to be spent on additional nurses, counselors, case managers and other wraparound services in CPS schools.

“The presence of Chicago police inside of schools creates dangerous conditions for students that have led to the criminalization, mass incarceration, harassment, death, and heinous use of force against Brown and predominantly Black students,” according to the proposed ordinance.

There are approximately 180 school resource officers assigned to 76 district schools, according to the ordinance.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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