Chicago public school to vote on converting to charter

Next steps are unclear, but Brizard says he wants parents to demand more of their schools.

August 30, 2011

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It’s believed to be the first time ever: a local school council at a Chicago public school will consider a resolution to shut itself down for poor performance and convert to a charter school.

Slated for Tuesday evening, the vote is being pushed by parents at Wendell Smith Elementary in the Pullman neighborhood.

"This is the seventh year the school has been on probation," says Lynn Evans, parent of three students at Smith and chair of the council.

"A lot of parents have to drive their children out of the neighborhood just to get a better education. They have failed our children—bottom line. That’s what prompted this whole movement."

A pro-charter group with close ties to Chicago’s business community, New Schools for Chicago, has been supporting the parents.

The school’s principal and two teachers also sit on the local school council.

It’s unclear what will happen if the LSC votes to convert to a charter. The school district has no set policy for dealing with such a decision.

CPS officials are withholding comment until after the vote. But CEO Jean-Claude Brizard told civic leaders this afternoon he wants parents to demand more from schools.