In an interview late last month, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson said that he supports ending a program that puts uniformed police officers in dozens of Chicago Public Schools.
The mayor made the remarks in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times. In the interview, he voiced his support to end the $10.3 million contract with the Chicago Police Department. CPS officials reportedly told school principals last month to prepare for the removal of the officers next fall.
“The Board of Education is moving in the direction that I do support,” the mayor told the outlet. “There is an intergovernmental agreement between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Police Department. To end that agreement, there’s no qualms from me there.”
The outlet noted that Johnson has flip-flopped on the issue (via Sun-Times):
Johnson as a mayoral candidate said he would remove all officers and focus on those alternative solutions. But once he took office, he backed off, saying Local School Councils should make individual decisions. Now he has once again reversed course.
A Chicago school principal and several lawmakers, on the other hand, expressed that the city’s Board of Education should not make the decision on whether or not police stay in schools.
William Howard Taft High School Principal Mark Grishaber told Fox News that the removal of school resource officers (SRO) at CPS should be decided by the Local School Councils (LSC) as opposed to the Board of Education.
"Let each school's LSC decide if they want to retain their SRO's or let them go. Many years ago the system was broke, but through the efforts of Jadine Chou and CPS, the SRO's are now in the schools that want them and the SRO's are now trained," Grishaber said in an email to Fox News Digital.
This is maddening:— Nicki Neily (@nickineily) February 5, 2024
Democrat Mayor Brandon Johnson wants to remove police officers from every school in Chicago despite the majority of families wanting them to stay in place. pic.twitter.com/o8bK06m1f9
Reportedly, earlier last month, the Chicago Board of Education wanted to strip Local School Councils, which are made up of parents, teachers, and students, of their power to choose whether to have SROs at their schools.
"Each school in CPS is different. Principals and other community members on Local School Councils understand the environment and needs of their schools. They are best equipped to determine the necessity of school resource officers," the Illinois Policy Institute told Fox. "Local School Councils already have the power to remove officers, but district leaders are taking away that local control."
After blindly parroting "defund the police" agitprop that destroyed a generation of tween activists' credibility, Brandon Johnson fully funds the police units that provide his security.— Illinois Policy (@illinoispolicy) January 31, 2024
He's surrounded by ~150 officers.
He needs them – but at-risk Chicago children don't. 🤔 pic.twitter.com/SEEzKHqH5x
Grishaber added: "If the Mayor and the Board really believe what they say, that the safety of our students is their number one concern and the Mayor and the board really believe in listening to student and community voices then the decision should be crystal clear.”
The Sun-Times noted that Alderman Peter Chico, a Democrat, said that police officers were removed from George Washington High School in the city. As a result, he heard complaints from CPD that calls from the school increased. And, parents didn’t feel comfortable with the lack of police presence.
Ald. Ruth Cruz added that parents have spoken to her about their concerns with a lack of police in schools. Cruz, a former LSC member, said that these decisions should be left up to these committees.
This debate about police officers in schools has occurred in other school districts across the country. In Alexandria, Virginia, the Alexandria City Council voted in 2021 to return police to schools after the school board and superintendent worked to remove them (via the Washington Post):
After several incidents involving students and guns this fall escalated safety concerns, parents and top school officials pleaded with the council to reinstate the decades-old initiative. This week, their calls were enough to sway just one key lawmaker.
“I’m willing to take that step back,” said council member John T. Chapman (D), who had initially voted to defund SROs. “We know this program is not a silver bullet, but we have to do something here tonight.”
City council members had previously voted to reallocate $800,000 for SROs to expand mental health programs for students.
“We want to thank the Alexandria City Council for its decision to work with us and agree to the reinstatement of our [SROs],” Alexandria City schools spokeswoman Julia Burgos said. “SROs serve as a proactive safety mechanism while serving as a trusted adult for our students.”