Web Exclusive: Safe Passage

Chicago Public School officials and principals say the Safe Passage program has improved the safety of students passing through dangerous gang turf on their way to school. But with school closings on the horizon, we examine the potential effects these closings could have on the safety of kids traveling to and from school. View a slideshow, a map of Chicago schools with Safe Passage programs currently in place, and watch web-exclusive videos to learn more about the Safe Passage program.

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Elizabeth Dozier is the principal of Fenger High School, one of 35 Chicago high schools with “Safe Passage” guards positioned in the surrounding neighborhoods to usher children to and from school safely. Dozier says that attendance and graduation rates have climbed since the program’s inception. Watch Paris Schutz's full interview with Dozier:

Vada Witherspoon, an 18-year-old senior at Fenger High School, walks six blocks to school every day along a route that straddles turf claimed by various Roseland gangs. Vada is sometimes uneasy walking home alone in the evening, but says she feels safe in the areas closest to Fenger patrolled by “Safe Passage” guards. She has been accepted to college and is weighing her offers. Paris Schutz walks and talks with Vada in the following video:

Dorothy Washington is a “Safe Passage” guard who patrols the corner of Wallace and 111th streets near Fenger High School. Contracted by Chicago Public Schools through the non-profit Black United Fund, Washington is one of approximately 30 guards stationed daily throughout the neighborhood along routes most trafficked by students - and those most vulnerable to gang activity. She talks with Paris Schutz in the following video:

Paris Schutz and Drew Kann contributed to this report.