Lightford: Safe passages to school aren’t safe enough

Lightford committeeSPRINGFIELD – Last December, a Chicago girl was beaten and raped half a block from one of the city's "Safe Passage" routes to and from school. In response to this incident and other anecdotes from parents and students about the lack of safety along "safe passages," State Senator Kimberly A. Lightford is proposing that schools provide free transportation along designated "safe passage" routes.

"Chicago's 'safe passages' aren't safe enough," Lightford said. "When our children leave our homes in the morning, we expect them to get there and back safely. A school-provided bus or van is much safer than a walk through a dangerous neighborhood."

When CPS closed 50 schools last year, the students from those shuttered facilities were sent to new "welcoming schools." Though each welcoming school has a "safe passage," many parents were – and still are – concerned that these routes pass through dangerous areas known for gang violence and along dangerous streets known for high crime rates.

"We all know that CPS closed those schools to save money," Lightford said, "but all the savings in the world can't make up for the loss of one child's life."

Lightford acknowledges that her plan comes with a cost to the district, but believes that safety and necessity must outweigh financial considerations in this situation.

The senator's plan, Senate Bill 2775, passed the Education Committee and will now be considered by the full Senate.

A CNN story about the December rape case is available here.