KENWOOD — Dyett Academic Center supporters rallied at Ald. Will Burns' 4th Ward office Monday morning in an attempt to pressure the alderman to support a plan to save the school from being phased out next year.
“I’m ashamed of Ald. Will Burns because he has done nothing to help Dyett students,” said Parrish Brown, the valedictorian of the 2014 senior class at the school.
Supporters of the school at 555 E. 51st St. are pushing city and school officials to cancel the planned phase-out of the school at the end of the 2014-2015 school year and reorient the curriculum around the school’s current urban agriculture programs and green technology.
Supporters said they received a positive reaction to their plan from Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale during a May 27 meeting and said they were told by Vitale to seek the alderman’s support.
The group, which includes the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, parents, teachers and community members, met with Burns on June 5 and said they got a chilly reaction from the south lakefront alderman.
“He gave no response to the plan,” said Minnie Jefferson and others in the meeting.
Burns was unavailable to comment on Monday morning as the protesters prepared to camp out in their cars in front of Burns' office at 435 E. 35th St.
On June 12, Burns said he supported many of the priorities of the coalition of community groups, including that the school remain open as an open-enrollment neighborhood high school.
“The coalition has asked me to endorse their specific plan for Dyett,” Burns said. “While there are elements of the plan that reflect the values of a high-performing high school, the coalition, to date, has not engaged a wide range of Bronzeville stakeholders like the Bronzeville Community Action Council.”
Jitu Brown, an organizer for the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, said the coalition has met with the action council numerous times since the school’s closure was announced in 2012.
He said the group has also met with the action council in Hyde Park, neighbors around the school, parents and officials at other schools that would be affected by changes at Dyett and the Chicago Teachers Union.
Brown called on Burns to hold a town hall meeting to engage in the community process he said has already started.
“The measure is not what you feel, but what you do,” Brown said. “A community process doesn’t start with agency heads.”
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