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Parents, Protesters End School Sit-In After Promised Meeting With CPS Leaders

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Parents, students and protesters stage an "occupation" of Brian Piccolo Elementary Specialty School to protest plans to replace the entire school staff. (Credit: CBS)

Parents, students and protesters stage an “occupation” of Brian Piccolo Elementary Specialty School to protest plans to replace the entire school staff. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Parents ended their 22-hour sit-in at Brian Piccolo Elementary Specialty School on the West Side on Saturday after being promised that they would get a chance to plead their case in a series of meetings with Board of Education members Monday and Tuesday.

The parents met Saturday for about an hour with Board of Education Vice President Jesse Ruiz.

Parent Cecile Carroll said they outlined the progress Piccolo students have made under a new principal, including improved test scores and an 84 percent parent participation in report card pick-up day.

“You don’t even get that at a lot of the magnet schools,” Carroll said.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts Reports

The parents formulated a counter-proposal to the board once they learned that Piccolo was targeted for a “turnaround,” in which the entire staff is replaced, and even handed Ruiz a copy of the counter-proposal Jan. 25, but Carroll said he did not appear to be aware of it until now.

When Ruiz promised meetings with the rest of the board of similar length, they agreed to end the sit-in.

Carroll said those sitting in had hoped to speak with either Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard or with the board.

“Let me tell you something. Getting an hour with a board member is much better than getting two minutes in front of the Board of Education meeting at the last minute on the last day,” Carroll said to a cheering crowd that included a number of Occupy Chicago supporters.

She said this way, board members would be making an educated decision.

“A lot of the new administration doesn’t know what was going on in these schools, Carroll said. “So a lot of people were about to make decisions on schools and had no idea about the culture, the community around them and none of that stuff,” she said.

Chicago Public Schools, in a statement, continued to say that Piccolo has failed its students “year after year,” has been on probation and in the bottom five percent of schools in the city for five consecutive years, that nearly half of Piccolo students fail to meet state standards and that the percentage of Piccolo fourth grade students meeting standards dropped in the past three years from 63 percent on the Illinois State Achievement Tests to 42 percent.

The board’s vote is expected Wednesday.

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