Student safety – it is always a top priority for both families and CPS. But it is of special significance for those children who will be entering welcoming schools this fall, as new plans and policies are now being created to help keep these students safe.
In partnership with the Chicago Police Department (CPD), CPS’ Office of Safety and Security recently held 50 school-specific parent safety planning meetings – one for every sending and welcoming school. By bringing them together, Chief Security Officer Jadine Chou and her deputies were able to show parents the safety plans that are being developed for their children and get their feedback on how to make those plans stronger.
“The goal of these meetings was to get parent input on the custom school safety plans, and to help ease their concerns and answer their questions,” said Chou, who described the meetings as an overall success.
Parents provided information on everything from potentially dangerous intersections to neighborhood trouble spots, and were vocal about which routes they consider safest for their children as they travel to and from school.
“Throughout this process, parents have been the perfect partners to CPS and CPD as we work to refine the safety plans for our city’s children,” said Jadine Chou. “The meetings were positive, productive and helpful, and we are very grateful for the time our parents provided as part of this collaboration.”
Customized school safety plans will include increased security personnel at all welcoming schools, with officers receiving specialized training in student integration and transitioning with sending school students whenever possible to maintain established relationships. Security technology at each welcoming school will also be reviewed, and new or upgraded cameras, alarm systems and entry screening equipment installed as needed.
Among the most significant developments in student safety is the expansion of Safe Passage – a program that provides an adult presence along pre-defined safe routes children use to travel to and from school. Considered the eyes and ears of their communities, Safe Passage workers have strong ties to their neighborhoods and have demonstrated a working knowledge of the areas in which they serve,
On June 26, the Chicago Board of Education approved the expansion of the Safe Passage program, adding 19 new community-based vendors. This will translate into 600 new Safe Passage workers to serve the approximately 30,000 students affected by transition. Once the new vendors connect with their assigned welcoming schools, they will begin the process of hiring new Safe Passage workers. Anyone interested in applying for these positions should visit www.cps.edu beginning Wednesday, July 3.
In addition to its expansion, the Safe Passage program will now include a system to address such issues as abandoned buildings, vacant lots, and traffic concerns and oversee improvements along the routes. The Safe Passage Working Group will meet regularly to review the required work orders and ensure that proper action is taken prior to the start of school.
“We have learned so much from our parents and other partners, and will incorporate that feedback into our safety planning process,” said Jadine Chou. “With the support of all our partners, including the CPD, we will finalize safety plans and Safe Passage routes for our students in the coming weeks.”