CPS Honors Safe Passage Workers For Keeping Students Safe, Prepares For New School Year

Jim Gudas
August 30, 2019 - 3:48 pm

(Jim Gudas/WBBM)

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- As Chicago Public School students return to class on Tuesday, a rally was held Friday afternoon on the South Side for workers who help students get to and from school safely.

Hundreds of Safe Passage workers gathered at Chicago State University for a luncheon and rally hosted by CPS to be thanked for their service.

Among them was Sheila Jones, who helps students at Curtis Elementary on the South Side get to and from school safely.

Jones said when Safe Passage workers are on the job during school days around Curtis, violence in those areas drops drastically. But, as soon as the workers leave, often times violence returns, she said.

Angela Hurlock rose from being a Safe Passage worker to supervising the program at five CPS schools. Hurlock said Safe Passage workers don't just protect students from violence and are much more than crossing guards — they look for other challenges the students are facing.

"Kids need to be ale to get to schools safely so we are creating passages for kids to get there," Hurlock said. "People think, 'Oh, they are just crossing guards,' but not really. These are also individuals that are making sure what challenges kids are going through."

(Jim Gudas/WBBM)

Hurlock said that includes identifying children who might need new clothes or are hungry.

The mayor’s office cites a study that shows the 10-year-old program has led to a drop in violence along Safe Passage routes when the workers are on duty. CPS notes that more than 75,000 CPS students have been served and 19 partnerships with community-based organizations have been created.

“The Safe Passage program is part of our promise to our students that receiving a high-quality education should not require a concerning commute to and from school,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “From Uptown to Roseland, the Safe Passage program has effectively kept students safe, and we’re excited to expand the program to more schools in more neighborhoods this school year.” 

Last school year, about 1,300 Safe Passage workers were in place at 160 CPS schools, and the district hopes the program keeps expanding.