Chicago residents are taking new measures to ensure a local school, Dyett High School, remains open and functioning at its highest ability. A group of 12 has been on a hunger strike since August 17 in hopes the Chicago School Board will implement their proposal for the high school.
Dyette once faced closure, however the school board is hearing plans to possibly restore the school. The problem is that these plans have seen significant delays and the community has no clue what will happen to their neighborhood school.
The Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School initiated the hunger strike and would like for the school board to not only take action immediately, but enforce the coalition’s proposal. The protesters would like to see Dyette reopened as a district-run school focused on the sciences.
The hunger strike has caused medical professionals to step in and ask Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to make a quick move on the future of the school as two protestors have already faced hospitalization.
“We consider the current situation to be a deepening health emergency in our city. It is one you can abate by reaching out to the strikers, entertaining their grievances and accepting their proposal,” read a letter medical professionals sent the mayor Thursday, reports DNAinfo.
A registered nurse, Erin Raether, who has attended to the strikers said protesters’ health was “fragile” and she could see possible “complications” in the future. Another medical profession stated the strike could be “deadly.”
The Chicago mayor closed 49 schools in 2013 due to underutilization and low academic performance, the same reason Dyette is currently under inspection. However, residents in favor of neighborhood schools have had enough. The protesters have worked to keep the school alive since the first mention of its closing in 2012.
In a press conference Thursday, the mayor noted there are 10 schools in a three-mile radius of Dyette but stated the newly appointed Board of Education President Frank Clark and Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool are working through the issue.
“Within about a mile of the school is King College Prep. So there’s a lot of high schools in that area. How do you talk about another one when even some of the high schools within the three-mile radius are not at capacity yet? That’s an issue that Frank and Forrest are going to work through,” said Emanuel.
The next step will be a public hearing on Sept. 15, but medical professionals hope the city makes a decision in favor of the strikers before this date.
The Board of Education did not take calls for immediate action on Wednesday, even after striker Jeanette Ramn collapsed after speaking to the board.