Keeping CPS students safe: Safe Passage routes released - My50 Chicago - Television - WPWR

Keeping CPS students safe: Safe Passage routes released

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The City of Chicago unveiled its Safe Passage routes for Chicago Public School students going to new schools in the fall. There are only 17 days left until the first day, and parents are still concerned.

The city is hustling to make "safe passages" for thousands of kids whose old schools were closed, and new ones are on the other side of unofficial - but very real - gang borders.

There's been skepticism about the city being ready from the Chicago Teachers Union and at least one alderman, since the Chicago Board of Education decided to close nearly 50 schools.

But the official routes for Safe Passage were announced on Friday, and Mayor Emanuel said with everyone's help, the city will be ready to keep kids safe.

The city wanted to hire 600 people to help students walk to their new schools. However, many of them may still be waiting for background checks to come back.

On Friday, FOX 32's Tisha Lewis saw two safe passage routes first-hand.

On one side--the route the city showed off--trimmed trees line the sidewalks surrounding Johnson Elementary School in North Lawndale.

On the other, another safe passage route near 67th and Aberdeen in Englewood, weeds seep out of sidewalk cracks, an abandoned apartment building sits on the corner, there are no trimmed trees and at one point, our cameraman was heckled in broad daylight.

Both routes are just two of more than 50 that Chicago Public Schools will man with police, pastors and paid workers to watch out for students walking to and from school.

"Originally I thought we were going to need hundreds of people over here last year, we didn't," Pastor Robin Hood of Redeem Outreach Ministry explains. "We only had 6 to 8 safe passage workers but now schools are closed and we'll need more."

Pastor Hood is just one of at least ten people who will man the safe passage route to and from Johnson Elementary School.

"To me this is my neighborhood, my community where I come from and the work that I did for years, people are confident, if I believe this, they are confident," Hood says.

Between 10 and 15 people will reportedly line one Safe Passage route. The routes are about a mile and Alderman Bob Fioretti is critical of how it will all work citing lack of training and staff and a non-existing protocol to report problems.

"Right now they are not ready, but in 15 days they could be," Fioretti says.

Englewood resident Erica Prince made other plans this school year, staying with her sister-in-law in Harvey so her son can attend school in the suburbs.

"The way everything is around here, there might be a chance that there's some type of crime but it just might help a little bit but with all these gangs and stuff going around, you never know," Prince says.

Commissioner Charles Williams admits the needs for safe passage is troubling.

"It reflects unfortunately some changes in society that is taking place but in order to correct some of the things that need to be corrected again the illustrated the need to get residents involved so we all solve the problem collectively," Williams says.

CPS says the safe passage program has led to a 20 percent drop in criminal incidents near safe passage schools, a nearly 30 percent decrease in incidents among students and a 7 percent boost in attendance over the past two years in safe passage high schools.

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