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Parents Stage Sit-In At Turnaround School

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(CBS) – Parents and students staged a sit-in Friday in hopes of saving Walter Gresham Elementary School.

The Chicago Board of Education voted for a turnaround, meaning staff will change because of low student performance.

The sit-in ended around midnight.

CPS representatives walked the halls with school administrators to monitor the situation inside. Chicago Police arrived outside to secure the area and limit access.

The Chicago Teachers Union, and representatives from Rainbow Push are in support of yesterday’s sit-in.

“AUSL has 29 schools currently under contract. Seventeen are under-performing, CPS current levels,” said Jonathan Jackson of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

“Our demands are we do not want our school turned around and we want the same resources that they’re going to give AUSL to run this school and we would like to speak to Rahm Emanuel personally,” said Anthony Jackson, coordinator for Community United for Change.

Coordinators say about 100 people participated in the sit-in and they vow to keep fighting until they get face-to-face meetings with those behind this decision.

“We do not take a decision to bring systemic change to a school lightly, but when change is in the best interest of our students, we will not waver,” CPS CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett said in a written statement.

CPS spokesman Joel Hood released a statement saying, “AUSL has a proven track record, combining academic rigor with strong school leadership, that will provide students with the foundation for academic success.”

The school, at 8524 S. Green St., is in in Chicago’s Auburn-Gresham neighborhood.

Several parents and grandparents gathered at Rainbow PUSH Saturday, following Friday night’s sit-in at the school. The number one complaint: a lack of resources for the children.

“Not just books and textbooks and other materials. We need teachers. Why can’t we have music? Why can’t we have art?” said Ollie Clements, a grandparent of a Gresham student.

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