Residents at the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center said they are suffering academically due to the closing of the school at the center because of a lack of security guards, and want it re-opened.
A spokesman for Chicago Public Schools, which oversees the educational instruction in the detention center, said the center is in the middle of a pilot program where there is one classroom of students receiving educational instruction.
But a court appointed monitor for the Audy Home, as the detention center is often referred to, has the final say on how education services are handled. Earl Dunlap, the appointed monitor, has the authority to determine how the facility is run and how schooling is provided.
One of the issues that is causing problems in getting education back to where it should be is a staffing shortage among the center’s security guards, said Mike Vaughn, CPS spokesman. Dunlap wants to supplement the existing security staff with 175 guards from a private security firm. Since a fight occurred at the school two months ago, students have not been allowed to get instruction inside the detention center school.
Instead, teachers have been going into units inside the center to teach the youth, Darrius Lightfoot, a Fearless Leading by the Youth representative said. Each unit houses 30-60 residents of all education levels, and the students are not divided within the unit. Lightfoot said all students are taught the same thing and the teacher doesn’t provide books.. “The youth in the Audy Home is being denied their human right to education.
The teachers have been working with the kids in their unit, but there are no books or computers in there. So, how can they relate to the kids with no books in that small, crampy room?” Lightfoot questioned. “I want to ask you, Arne, and you, Rufus, will you open up the school immediately in the Audy Home?” He was referring to Arne Duncan, CPS chief executive officer, and Rufus Williams, president of the CPS board.
Duncan told Lightfoot and other youth advocates that the circumstances surrounding limited availability to the school concerns the school district, but the decision is not CPS to make. “We’ve been very frustrated with this issue. To be real clear, we would love to open the school tomorrow. But we’re not able to do that,” Duncan said. The Audy Home has been under fire for alleged abuse of the youth housed there.
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