Thousands arrested on school property since September

Student activists ask Mayor Emanuel to put them on a path to college, not prison

April 25, 2012

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Becky Vevea/WBEZ
Student activist Jasmine Sarmiento holds a poster at a press conference Tuesday outside the mayor's office.

Young people calling themselves Voices of Youth in Chicago Education are asking Mayor Rahm Emanuel to put students on a path to college, not prison.

A couple dozen members of VOYCE rallied outside the mayor’s office yesterday, petitions and police department data in hand.

They say the data they obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request shows more than 2,500 people 18 or younger have been arrested on Chicago Public Schools’ property since September.

The group says every arrest or suspension interferes with education.

“Once they get suspended from school, they feel like they can’t catch up with their other classmates and they’re so far behind in their work,” said Ryonn Gloster, a senior at Dunbar Vocational Career Academy.

The data also shows that more than three-quarters of minors arrested on school property are African-American. Chicago Police Department spokeswoman Melissa Stratton says the data could be misinterpreted because it includes arrests made on nights and weekends, not just school days. She also said it doesn’t indicate whether the person arrested is enrolled in CPS.

CPS spokeswoman Marielle Sainvilus says arrests in schools are down 27 percent from this time last school year.

The district is also in the process of revising the student code of conduct, she said. CPS chief Jean-Claude Brizard and others have met with VOYCE and other community groups several times to discuss possible revisions.