The Local School Council (LSC) at Northside College Prep in North Park voted 8-0 on July 7 in favor of removing the School Resource Officers (SRO) from its school, making it the first LSC in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to do so. 

The LSC’s decision will go into effect for the 2020-2021 school year, said Carlie Hansen, a member of CPS Alumni for Abolition, a group of CPS graduates fighting for police-free schools.

In a press release posted on its Twitter account on July 7, CPS Alumni for Abolition attributed the successful vote to students and community members from Northside College Prep who rallied outside the school on July 5 to demand that the LSC remove the SROs from its school. 

“This demonstration was a rallying call, directing people to attend the LSC vote and to utilize the meeting’s public comment section to make their voices heard by the voting parents and teachers,” the press release stated. “We are ecstatic to announce that the students and community around Northside College Prep were successful.”

The Northside LSC meets monthly to discuss various issues in the school community. It lists out LSC members and meeting information on its website. But the website hasn’t been updated recently and members of the 2019-2020 LSC are not listed. Information for the virtual July 7 meeting was made available on the Northside College Prep website. 

There are currently five parent reps, two community reps, two teacher reps, one staff rep, one student rep and the principal on the council. They include Shari Massey (chair of the LSC and parent rep), Sue Kawecki (parent rep), Erika Schechter (parent rep), Dawn Zarembski (parent rep), Cathy Mullen (parent rep), David Cihla (community rep), JuanPablo Prieto (community rep), Gregory Difrancesco (teacher rep), Martha Mulligan (teacher rep and secretary), Kelly Mest (principal), Marion McCreedy (staff rep), and Luna Johnston (student rep).

Community rep Cihla voted to abstain because he was concerned about the safety of his own child and believes SROs could potentially prevent active school-shooter situations. Minutes for the July 7 meeting will not be available until they are approved at their next LSC meeting. 

“One of the current teachers reached out to us and said that they knew there was a vote coming up and that they felt student input was needed,” said Vivekae Kim, a 2017 CPS alumni from Northside College Prep and an organizer with CPS Alumni for Abolition. Information for the meeting was listed on the school website under the events calendar, not the LSC tab. 

“Besides the action from student representatives, that was really the only way we found out about [the meeting],” Kim continued.

Around 80 people showed up to the virtual Zoom meeting. They used up the public comment section prior to the vote to echo support for removing SROs from their school. 

“The message here is that students and young people can and do affect real, positive change,” Deena Al-Ali, a recent graduate from Northside College Prep, said Tuesday evening after the vote. “The fight isn’t over.” 

The vote comes in light of youth activists organizing across the city for #CopsOutCPS. On June 24, the CPS board voted 4-3, ending a motion to terminate the contract between CPS and the Chicago Police Department (CPD). Board member Lucino Sotelo argued against terminating the contract because he felt that removing police from schools should be left up to LSCs to decide. Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS CEO Janice Jackson have expressed similar sentiments.


According to student rep Johnston, there are currently two SROs at Northside College Prep, not including security officers. The vote to remove SROs from the school applies only to those employed through CPD. The option to reallocate the funds used for SROs will be left up to CPS to decide, not the LSC. 

If the #CopsOutCPS movement succeeds, 180 SROs would be removed from 76 Chicago public schools. The CPS board is expected to vote on whether to renew the $33-million contract with CPD during an upcoming meeting before the 2020-2021 school year begins in September. Youth activists argue that the money for the contract should be allocated to fund resources for their schools such as nurses, social workers, and crisis counselors. 

“We’re hoping that this LSC [vote] sets a precedent,” said Kim. “It’s going to put more pressure on the Board of Education to listen to students, teachers, parents, and community members.”

is a freelance writer for The TRiiBE.