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West Englewood coalition backs president, supports plans for repurposing Englewood schools

Officials from the West Englewood Coalition announced today that they remain fully supportive of plans by Chicago Public Schools to build a state- of- the- art high school in Englewood, replacing four high schools with declining enrollment, and 100 percent supportive of their president, Tyson Everett, a longtime Englewood leader, social services provider and education advocate.

Mr. Everett, officials said, has served the organization honorably and has represented the interests of the coalition and the community as a member of Englewood’s Community Action Council (CAC), a body of community stakeholders who advises Chicago Public Schools on education issues. The Englewood CAC supports plans to close four schools in the neighborhoods in favor of the new $85 million education center and the repurposing of the former schools in the best interest of the community.

Officials noted that they remain supportive of Mr. Everett, who has lived and currently works in Englewood for nearly half a century, because he is not linked in any way to news reports circulating around fellow Englewood Community Action Council Member Dori Collins, who is alleged to have been under contract by CPS while serving on the CAC.

“Mr. Everett has been, and remains a pillar of the Englewood community,” said Darlene O’Banner, Vice President and forty eight year resident in Englewood actively involved in Englewood students education as a Local School Council Member, Chairperson Parent Advisory Council, Chairperson Early Childhood Policy Committee, CAC and Steering Committee Member. There are many great people who reside in other communities and travel  to  Englewood everyday just as Mr. Everett to service Englewood residents and they don’t have the heart or passion he has dedicated it’s simple just look at our schools failing our students. People can live wherever they choose such as Mr. Everett it has no reflection on his long standing track record and commitment.

“The organization stands firmly behind its president, and will have no ties with even the appearance of impropriety.”

O’Banner added, “It was unbeknownst to our organization or our president that Ms. Collins received any compensation from CPS while the negotiations between the community and Chicago Public Schools have been taking place. We have requested that Mr. Everett separate from any interaction with Ms. Collins at this time.”

Coalition members also refuted claims that they were paid by any person or entity during the school negotiations. They also clarified that the West Englewood Coalition is registered and operating properly in the community although it was incorporated by Mr. Everett, who resides in Homewood. “The West Englewood Coalition is a legitimate coalition,” O’Banner said.

This announcement comes on the heels of a recent article in the Chicago Sun-Times and other news agencies revealing that Collins, CAC co-chair, received a $15,000 contract during negotiations pertaining to the new school.

Mr. Everett, a local businessman and activist whose ties to Englewood spans nearly 50 years, has consistently advocated for Englewood residents, from delivering school supplies, and hosting Englewood resident “reunion” picnics, sports programs, to arranging holiday turkey giveaways with community partners. He has further served the community through his nonprofit, Bridging the Tys to Jordan, a community mental health and drug rehabilitation facility that Everett has run to benefit Englewood residents for more than 17 years.

When CPS began talks to initiate the consolidation, Mr. Everett was a member of the CAC and later appointed to the steering committee where he currently serves on both, formed by CPS to facilitate inclusion of the voice of Englewood residents. Because the West Englewood Coalition had been meeting unofficially for several years, they had already developed a strong position, insisting the Harper facility be repurposed to benefit the people of Englewood, serving as a women’s domestic violence housing, ex-offender housing, senior housing or veteran housing for his brother whom he has to travel elsewhere to visit. We remain adamant about Harper being vacant as we have enough vacant lots and buildings in Englewood.. Late last year, Mr. Everett officially incorporated the West Englewood Coalition, better enabling it to continue the work of advocating for the best possible for Englewood residents.

When the article revealed that Collins received a $15,000 contract during negotiations surrounding the new school, Mr. Everett was dismayed. He has, with the unwavering support of the coalition, requested that, in light of the apparent conflict of interest, Collins step aside until the allegations can be ethically resolved. It is the intent of Mr. Everett that there will be no ability of committee members to be swayed by any means, financial or otherwise, in determining what

is best for the community and its schools. This includes the Chicago Teachers Union, which, according to some public reports, is fueling this discourse and paying community activist Jitu Brown, among others. They have no business in Englewood whatsoever and perhaps they should be the target of an investigation.

For additional information on the West Englewood Community Coalition, contact 773.425.8159. To arrange an interview, contact JaVone Willingham.

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