In the short time Sharisa Lee’s children have been enrolled at Wendell Smith Elementary School in Pullman, she’s seen the hallways become sparse and classrooms left with empty chairs and desks.
Some families moved to new apartments outside Smith’s attendance area. Some students were sent to live with relatives in other neighborhoods deemed safer than crime-plagued Pullman and adjacent Roseland, nicknamed the “Wild Hundreds” (a reference to the east-west streets numbered in the 100s). A few students now travel daily to magnets and other schools, their parents eager to see if they could do better than the steel-frame, blue-and-yellow school at East 103rd Street and South Cottage Grove Avenue.
Lee has thought about joining the exodus. But, reluctant to give up on her neighborhood schools, she didn’t.