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Sit-in ends with CPS agreeing to meet

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A sit-in at a school on Chicago's West Side is over. Angry parents at Brian Piccolo Elementary staged the protest because of plans to fire staff and bring in new leadership.

The school, where the 24-hour long protest took place is in the 1000 block of N. Keeler.

It came to an end around 3:30 Saturday afternoon with a dozen or so people leaving the school tired, hungry, but satisfied.

"It should not have to take drastic measures like an occupation for real engagement around the needs of our schools," said protest organizer Cecile Carroll.

Earlier, from a classroom window, protestors complained that police and CPS security were blocking all deliveries, including food.

"They don't care because nobody show up, only security," said parent Elisa Nigaglioni. "They don't care because I said I need my medicine, and they said well you have to leave. They don't care about the children."

"We was running out of food," said student Dwayne Hoye. "It was very hot because they turned the temperature up."

The sit-in came to an end following a 90-minute meeting at the school with Chicago Board of Education Vice President Jesse Ruiz, who agreed to schedule talks this week between parents and other board members.

"I'm going to tell them just like it is," said parent Rosie Hudson. "We don't want turnaround. We don't want turnaround."

"Turnaround" is the name of the CPS program that aims to overhaul failing schools.

The board could approve turnaround for Piccolo and nine other schools on Wednesday, which would hand over management to a private non-profit.

"The turnaround model that we are putting in place has been successful in other schools," said CPS spokesperson Robyn Ziegler. "Almost immediately we've seen an increase in achievement."

Piccolo has been on probation for five years and CPS says nearly half of its students are not meeting state academic standards.

Some parents and students say the school's new principal, hired last summer, has not been given enough time to affect change. They say the board has ignored an alternative overhaul plan, submitted by Piccolo parents.

"You cannot go around and affect the lives of thousands of children based on the lack of information and the lack of community engagement," said Piccolo 7th grader Larry Davis.

Protesters say they have a number of teleconference is scheduled on Monday and Tuesday ahead of the Wednesday vote on the future of Piccolo School. They would only confirm the door was opened to more communication.

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