A plan to relocate hundreds of predominantly Hispanic students from southside schools to northside schools was met with disdain Tuesday by parents who said they fear for the safety of their children and worry they will lose interest in school and drop out.
More than 300 people attended a meeting at U.S. Grant High School called by the Oklahoma City school district to get feedback on the controversial proposal, which officials said would alleviate overcrowding at several southside high schools and middle schools beginning with the 2014-2015 school year.
“This school system has failed these parents and these students on the south side of Oklahoma City,” Juanita Vasquez Sykes told a panel of school district officials that included interim Superintendent Dave Lopez, George Kimball, the district’s chief information officer, and former Grant Principal Tamie Sanders, the district’s executive director of secondary education.
Under the proposal, 224 students projected to attend Grant, 5016 S Pennsylvania, would instead attend Northwest Classen High, 2801 NW 27. Another 169 students projected to attend Capitol Hill High, 500 SW 36, would attend Douglass Mid-High, 900 Martin Luther King Ave.
Teresa Terry, the parent of two daughters who attend Grant and one daughter who attends Jefferson but would attend Grant next year, said she is worried about the potential for violence that comes with busing southside students to northside schools.
We’ve got enough violence in the schools. We don’t need to add to it,” Terry said. They’re worried about going to different schools. “If they can’t stay at Grant then I’ll homeschool them.”
Middle schools affected by the plan include Roosevelt, Webster and Jefferson, which feed into Capitol Hill, and Taft, which feeds into Northwest Classen. Taft would gain 167 students that otherwise attend Jefferson, Roosevelt or Webster. Those schools stand to lose a projected 292 students to northside schools, officials said.
“It’s not ideal, but it’s a way to relieve some of the pressure,” Kimball said.
The only permanent solution, Kimball added, would be a bond issue to build new schools that could take up to four years.
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