Less than 2 hours after stating he would release a comment on the looming student expulsions in a day or two, Dr. Ben Nowakowski, Superintendent of the J.S. Morton schools in suburban Berwyn issued a statement dropping all threat of expulsions and sending most students back to school on Wednesday. More than two dozen students, were facing expulsion after an anti-war sit-in at the school on November first.
Since the protest, the numbers of students suspended has slowly decreased from a high of over 37 to a count of 18 cited today by the superintendent. In the statement posted on the District 201 website, Nowakowski says that "14 of the 18 students will be cleared to return to class on Wednesday, November 14; the remaining 4 students who bore more culpability for the disruption that occurred in the opinion of this administration will be cleared to return to class on Friday, November 16."
This is good news for parents whose children were still facing expulsion after several suspenion appeals meetings with school officials. Since the press conference held by the parents a week ago, school officials and the Board of Education have been barraged by the press, members of peace, social justice and civil rights groups and have felt the pressure of scrutiny by local political figures including the Reverend Jesse Jackson and State Representative LaShawn Ford. Dr. Charles Flowers, the regional superintendent, also said he was inquiring into the harsh punishment of the students.
Grassroots efforts to build support for the Morton West 25 generated national and international attention and support as over 8,000 people signed a petition initiated by a local chapter of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) over the past two weeks and word of the threatened expulsions spread through the Indymedia network and the progressive blogosphere.
"I don't regret the protest because I brought a lot of people to this question--about Iraq and what it's doing to our country," senior Joshua Rodriguez said.
Although relieved by the reprieve, parent, Pam Winstead said the next step is to make sure that the students' records are expunged of any reference to expulsion. Winstead said a group of the suspended students have been meeting to make plans on how to continue their protest and desire to educate the student body about the war.
Some of the students are expected to speak at the Iraq Moratorium rally in Chicago's Federal Plaza at 4:30pm on Friday, November 16th and are performing in a concert dedicated to them at Elmhurst College on Saturday the 17th.
Read more at: http://chicago.indymedia.org/index.php