By Derrick Blakley

CHICAGO (CBS) — Bad weather, sickness and security concerns: all reasons you might cancel a summer vacation.

But it’s a shakeup at the top of one Chicago organization that could cancel a trip to China for 16 Chicago students.

CBS 2’s political reporter Derrick Blakley has details on what may keep some of them home.

17-year-old Moreinke Odulate, a Lindblom High senior, is practicing Chinese.

It’s part of her preparation for a 12-day trip to Chinese cities Beijing, Shanghai, and Hangzhou.

But her mother, Toby Fowlkes, says a leadership change at the sponsoring Chicago Urban League may lead her to keep her daughter home.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our kids,” said Fowlkes. “And we want to make sure that they’re going to be able to enjoy it, learn from it but also be safe.”

The Urban League’s board Friday announced the departure of CEO Shari Runner.

Also leaving, Runner’s chief of staff, Danielle Parker who was also scheduled to chaperone the China trip.

Something she’s done for 100 kids since 2013.

“My thing would be safety, because Ms. Parker has done these trips for a very long time, so she knows China,” said Odulate.

“I’ve had a conversation with my daughter and told her right now it’s a no, its a hard no,” said Fowlkes. “And I’d be hard pressed to see how they’re going to change my mind on that.”

Meetings are scheduled for Friday night and Saturday with parents and kids hoping Danielle Parker will be allowed to stay on, just for the trip.

“A lot of us, our parents said, if Ms. Parker can’t go, we can’t go,” said Odulate.

The Chicago Urban League says Parker will be replaced by the agency’s personnel chief Dianne Heffner.

Whatever further decisions are made, neither will occur quickly because the students are scheduled to depart for China just one week from today.


Derrick Blakley