The parents of students at a West Side preparatory school are demanding heightened protection, claiming their children are being targeted and terrorized by gang members in the neighborhood where the charter school just opened a new campus.
At a meeting Thursday originally scheduled to celebrate the new school year, parents and faculty at Urban Prep Academy High School instead strategized solutions to the gang violence they say has plagued students since the school moved to 14th and Loomis streets this year, Fox Chicago reports. Parents say students are routinely assaulted, robbed and harassed, and subjected to gun violence, while commuting to and from school.
Victoria Hildreth, whose son is on the football team at Urban Prep, pays $60 a week to get him to and from school safely in cabs after an altercation Tuesday with residents of a nearby housing project left him with stitches inside his mouth, she told ABC Chicago.
"This volatile, violent area, these are like lambs surrounded by wolves, and that shouldn't be," grandmother Denise Banks told ABC.
Parents say these incidents happen daily, and suspect that the men harassing the students come from a CHA housing complex just north of the school, WGN reports.
The threat of violence is especially high when students get out of class at 4 p.m., and many stay after school for football practice across the street, requiring them to stay in the neighborhood late into the evening. The 12th District Police Department say they will be patrolling the area more heavily, Fox reports. Alderman Bob Fioretti (2nd) called for CHA and UIC to work as partners in mitigating the threat of violence in the West Side neighborhood.
Everyone has to work together to protect toe students, Fioretti said, according to Fox.
Last year, for the second year in a row, the all-male charter school with students from the city's worst neighborhoods sent its entire senior class to college.
Watch coverage from Urban Prep Academy at its new West Side location: