From Pilsen Alliance Press Release:
During these difficult times for our immigrant community we have heard many promises from the city of Chicago and public institutions such as Chicago Public Schools, which have consistently announced their commitment to protect and support our immigrant families.
However, parents at Orozco Academy in Pilsen tell a much different story about how immigrant families are treated within Chicago Public Schools. Ms. Esther Mendez a parent of three children at this school said:
“I feel terrorized, intimidated and afraid about the future of my children at Orozco. I was a parent mentor and volunteer at the school. When I came to address an issue of bullying against one of my children with Principal Efrain Martinez, not only was it ignored, but inexplicably, I ended up facing a criminal charges before a judge. The Principal alleged that I brought a gun to the school, which was absolutely not true. I came asking for an appointment, not an an argument with him. I am not a criminal. I am a parent mentor, and volunteer in my community. Now CPS is treating me as a criminal. I am not allowed to even enter the school without their permission due to a false accusation.”
It is inexplicable how Mr. Martinez who was recently quoted in an article about the anxiety that our immigrant families are feeling during these times, has himself been using intimidation and fear to creating even more anxiety among the Orozco community. That is inappropriate anywhere, but especially in an immigrant community like Pilsen.
Another parent, Ms. Salud Rojas whose child is in seventh grade also has a concerning story about threats involving the police department. “Mr. Martinez directed me to find another school for my child because of an incident in the school. Rather than find ways to help my child, he threatened to call the police if I did not agree to sign a transfer for my child. Today, my child still does not have a school. She missed her constitution exam and I do not even know where to go”
This is the reality of Chicago Public schools and how it treats our immigrant families. It is easy to say we are a sanctuary city, but what does it mean? “When our immigrant families are intimidated, terrorized and threatened with the use of police by the same people who suppose to protect them, by people who suppose to understand the consequences and reality of our families, then we can not talk about a sanctuary city, we must start talking about the work we need to do with CPS to change policies that will honor the word sanctuary, we need have a lot of work to do to create sanctuary schools in Chicago” said Corina Pedraza Co-Director of Pilsen Alliance.
The first demand is to remove current principal Martinez and revoke his license, said a group of parents. CPS must move forward and take concrete steps to create change within the school. This is immediately necessary to avoid, once again, threats from school authorities directed towards the local community. Actions and policies are the foundation to create stability in the Chicago Public Schools and begin a conversations about sanctuary schools.
Video from Friday Morning Press Conference Outside Orozco Elementary: