Lane Tech Parents Petition for Security Cameras, Safety Measures

By Patty Wetli on March 7, 2013 7:32am 

ROSCOE VILLAGE — In the wake of violence near a number of schools, including the shooting of Hadiyah Pendleton near King College Prep, Chicago Public Schools representatives have repeatedly said student safety is a priority.

Yet the district's largest school, Lane Tech College Prep High School, with an enrollment that tops 4,200, doesn't have a single security camera. Or alarm system.

"We have to send the resources where kids are getting shot every day," said Kat Hindmand, safety manager for the CPS North/Northwest network, speaking at a recent meeting of Lane Tech's Local School Council.

"It's like being in the E.R. It's triage."

Installing a single camera can cost as much as $5,000, Hindmand told DNAinfo.com Chicago. The total price tag for retro-fitting Lane Tech, constructed in 1934, with an appropriate system could run as high as $500,000, she said.

"The board isn't going to pay for it," Hindmand said. "There's not enough money to go around."

Lane's most recent request for surveillance equipment was rejected by the district's camera committee.

"They weren't able to put Lane Tech on the priority list," Hindmand said.

Despite occasional incidents — a note threatening a shooting was found in a girls bathroom in 2007 — Lane Tech is in a low-crime neighborhood and infractions are rare, Hindmand said.

"You don't find a lot of problems here. It's a Blue Ribbon school," she said, explaining the committee's reasoning.

What has parents and Lane administrators concerned is a pair of new public facilities — Kerry Wood Cubs Field and the Clark Park boathouse — set to open in the school's back yard, and the related number of strangers certain to circulate on or near the school's grounds as a result.

In response, Lane's Parent Teacher Student Organization has drafted a petition addressed to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. More than 600 community members have signed the request for parking lot lights and security cameras.

"With the Park District's expansion of the facilities in Clark Park, Kerry Wood Cubs Field and the Clark Park boathouse, both boons to the school and community at large, it is no longer acceptable that there is no security in and around Lane Tech," the petition states.

"Currently there are no lights or security cameras in the parking lot, which will be used by an ever increasing school and community population. ... It is time for the Chicago Public School System to step up and correct this dangerous oversight."

Hindmand did express surprise that the plans for Kerry Wood Cubs Field, to be directly behind Lane Tech, failed to provide for exterior lighting at the school.

"You would think security would have to be a consideration," she said. She promised to raise the matter with other CPS officials.

With the ballfield's construction now on hold, the Lane community has more time to marshal its forces in appealing to CPS.

"We know it's a process. It doesn't happen overnight," said Carmen Mendoza, parent representative on Lane's Local School Council and a member of the Parent Teacher Student Organization.

"It's such a critical issue for us. We're going to keep on going and going until we get results."

Leslie Boozer, chief of schools for the North/Northwest Side high school network, attended the Parent Teacher Student Organization's February meeting to listen to parents' concerns and is expected to appear, along with Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th), at the group's meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Lane Tech. Committee reports start at 6:15 p.m.

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