BREAKING: Lane LSC votes to remove school resource officers from campus

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The Lane Tech LSC met virtually to vote on whether to keep SROs in the building (Screenshot from Lane Tech LSC Zoom meeting Aug. 10)

By Alex Burstein and Emily Delgado

The Lane Tech Local School Council (LSC) has officially voted 9-3 to remove police officers, known as school resource officers (SRO), from the school at a special meeting held via Zoom, earlier this evening. 

This vote occurred over a month after the CPS Board of Education (BOE) voted 4-3 on June 24 to keep a contract between CPS and CPD to have police police officers in school. Following the BOE vote, CPS announced that schools that have permanent officers would have to have an LSC vote by Aug. 15.

At the beginning of the meeting, Chairperson Emily Haite stated that the removal of the SROs doesn’t mean removing the security staff at Lane. Haite also stated that SROs will not be paid while students are in online school. 

During public participation, the first six faculty members and three students talked, all sharing one common message remove the officers. Public participation then moved into the parents and alumni.

This trend continued for the remainder of public participation, as alumni, parents and community members were all given the opportunity to speak. Of the 33 public participants, 29 called for the removal of the officers, while three called for the retaining of the officers and one said they were neutral. 

Although the call to remove or retain the SROs was split, every public participant had the students’ safety in mind. 

This was not the first time the Lane community voiced their opinions regarding the SROs in Lane. Just two days earlier, Lane community members protested SROs in Lane and CPS.

The Lane LSC also put out a questionnaire regarding the SROs in the school, the results of which were announced during the meeting.

Out of the 1,327 responses, 62.2% wanted to retain the officers, a stark contrast with the views voiced in public participation.

Results from a LSC questionnaire presented at the meeting showed a majority of community members wanted to keep the SROs (Screenshot from Lane Tech LSC Zoom meeting Aug. 10)

Parents accounted for 59.8% of the responses, while 34.4% were students. The rest of the responses were faculty, parents and guardians.

The survey also asked students about their interaction with SROs. Of the 614 responses to this question, 364 said they had no interaction, and 136 said they had positive interaction. 82 said neutral, and 32 said negative. The LSC stated that they got more responses to the student-only question than student responses to the survey, but said it was probably parents speaking for their kids.

The meeting wrapped up with the grand finale — the discussion and vote. Haite made a motion to keep the officers, and the roll-call vote followed, meaning each member would state their case and then vote.

Principal Brian Tennison started the vote, saying that even if one student felt uncomfortable, then the SROs should not be in the building. He voted no, SROs should not be in the building.

Dan Law, Laura Symons, Anne Lokken, Maureen George, Ana Borja-Scales, Benjamin Wong and Haite all voted to remove the SROs.

Dannixa Velez, Matt Beaudet and Patricia O’Keefe voted to keep the SROs.

While the student and teacher representatives voted to remove the SROs,  the vote was split with the parent representatives — some voted to remove while others voted to keep them. 

Earlier this morning, CPS released its new proposed budget, which calls for spending on SROs to be cut from $33 million to $15 million, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. This cut will save CPS $18 million. The Board of Education will vote on the proposal at their August meeting later this month.

Having declined to have the SROs present in the building, Lane will not receive any of the money that was being spent on the SROs.

LSC members discussed the presence of SROs in Lane at the June 15 LSC meeting, prior to the June Board of Education meeting.

According to the minutes of the June LSC meeting, “Multiple communications were received by the LSC questioning the placement of an SRO in the building. Mr. Tennison reported the officer is not involved in student discipline, but is intended to be a deterrent and protector in the case of an active shooter situation.” 

At the end of tonight’s LSC meeting, Haite provided a look forward now that the SROs are officially removed.

“One good thing about the students not being in the building in a few weeks is it’s going to give us some more time to make a plan,” Haite said at the end of the meeting. “We all want to keep our students safe and we will come up with a plan to do so.”