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Chicago Residents Stage Hunger Strike to Preserve Neighborhood School

A group of Chicago parents and residents fighting to have a say in what happens to their neighborhood high school have entered the second week of a hunger strike.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that members of the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School have lobbied for years on behalf of the school, first to prevent a planned closure, then to put a new neighborhood school in the building.

Now, they're demanding that the city's school board accept their proposal to transform Dyett into the Global Leadership and Green Technology High School in partnership with the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Dyett was slated to be phased out after graduating its last class of 13 students this year, website DNAinfo.com reported, but now the Chicago school district plans to reopen it for the 2016-17 school year. The protesters' proposal is one of three plans the Chicago school board is mulling.

The Chicago school board has delayed deciding which of the three proposals to accept until September, a move that prompted the Dyett hunger strike.

DNAinfo.com estimates that a dozen people are participating in the hunger strike. This week, the protesters took their campaign to the doorstep of Little Black Pearl Art and Design Academy, a competitor that has designs on opening an arts-focused school.

The other competing proposal is from Dyett High's principal, who wants the campus to house a sports-oriented academic high school.

The hunger strike protesters say Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who appoints school board members, and their city council alderman have all but ignored their calls for support, DNAinfo.com reported.

American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten plans to join the hunger strike Wednesday. Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson and Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey participated last week.



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