Please accept this letter informing you of the mass out of school suspensions of 40 students from Austin Polytechnical Academy High School (APA). Their suspensions ranged from two to 10 school days.
The 40 APA students were suspended by interim Principal Farnby Williams for participating in a student organized sit-in. (Click here to see a story about the student protest.) The sit-in was organized by the students in response to Williams’ decision to fire seven teachers by giving them each an “unsatisfactory” evaluation.
Any new teacher hired by the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) must serve three-year probationary period before earning tenure. If the probationary teacher is evaluated as unsatisfactory within those three years, that teacher is “fired” by CPS and can never work for CPS.
The seven teachers earned mostly good to excellent evaluations before Mr. Williams arrived at the school.
The students, parents and community were shocked by his decision; therefore, the students first organized a peaceful walk out on May 16. The students all returned to their classes. On May 19, the students staged a peaceful sit-in inside the classroom of a fired teacher. On May 20, Mr. Williams issued the mass suspensions.
We all should be outraged that the principal of APA would issue any out of school suspensions for the students’ peaceful actions. Alternative punishment such as in-school suspension and/or detention should have been explored. During the day, schools are the safest place for our children, not the streets where Mr. William had no problem sending them.
The suspended students are currently meeting at the Austin Library on Central and Race from 3 to 5 p.m. They are being tutored by several dedicated APA teachers who are determined to minimize the loss of instruction time to those students (many are seniors scheduled to graduate), and to keep them from hanging out in the streets.
I ask that you stop by the Austin Library today to show your support for our children. I also ask that you phone the new CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, Jean Claude Brizard, at (773) 553-1000 and tell him to reinstate the students and expunge the discipline from their records.