BRONZEVILLE — Protesters trying to keep Dyett High School open said they were able to wring several concessions out of the mayor’s office just before they were arrested for chaining themselves to a statue in City Hall Tuesday night.
According to protesters, the mayor’s office has committed to hiring a physical education teacher and allowing the students back into gym at the school at 555 E. 51st St.
When Chicago Public Schools announced in 2012 it would phase out Dyett, the gym was closed, just months after teachers and students won a full overhaul of the gym facilities in an ESPN contest.
The 13 students remaining in the school will now get a physical education teacher and be allowed back in the gym instead of taking P.E. as an online class, protesters said at a Wednesday news conference — which was called after they got out of jail at 3 a.m.
“The negotiations only began when they saw we were serious about getting arrested,” said Jitu Brown, education organizer for the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, who was arrested along with 10 other protesters at 11:15 p.m. Tuesday for chaining themselves to a statue outside the mayor's office.
A representative from the mayor’s office was not immediately available to comment.
But in a statement issued to ABC7-News, spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said that "city officials met with the group several times regarding their list of demands — and in fact, agreed to the majority of them. City officials continued to make additional concessions, but the group communicated to staff and police officers that regardless of any concessions, they wanted to be arrested."
Brown and other protesters said Arnie Rivera, deputy chief of staff for education, and Ken Bennett, the mayor's deputy chief of staff, also agreed to provide ACT test prep, tutoring and other services to the remaining students at Dyett.
The mayor’s staff also offered to allow the school to hold prom and resume a college-readiness program called Life After Dyett, according to protesters.
Brown said the mayor’s staff also agreed to a meeting at the end of the week to discuss a proposal to keep the school open as a community high school with a focus on green technology.
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