Kalamazoo schools to fight back on closure threat

Posted at 9:34 AM, Feb 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-16 19:39:08-05

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The Kalamazoo Board of Education has authorized the superintendent to take legal action against the state of Michigan's School Reform Office over the agency's threat to close two Kalamazoo schools.

The board gave Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice the authorization Wednesday night.

“I quite frankly don’t believe that the state should be involved in making determinations about closures of local schools,” said Supt. Rice during a press conference about the lawsuit. “Parents have determined that these schools work for them.”

Washington Writers' Academy

Several parents, who are plaintiffs in the lawsuit, also attended the presser. They each stated why they've decided to join the fight to keep both Washington Writers Academy and Woodward School for Research and Technology open.

"Moving my son to Washington was the best decision that I've made for him," said Aleena Evans, about her son who once had behavioral problems in the classroom.  "He was often angry and frustrated. And Washington staff as whole took the time to get to know my son to help him through those things. And with that, came the academics."

The SRO threatened to close 38 underperforming schools across the state, a move that  immediately outraged school districts and parents alike.  Kalamazoo County Commissionersalso wrote a letter to the state in protest last week.

Supt. Rice said the lawsuit will be filed next week. Parents said the idea of the school's closing has caused hardships at home but their going to continue to fight.

"It's hard to have a conversation with [our] family to let them know that they are not a failure and the school that they attend is not a failure," said Briana Wolverton whose son attends Washington. "I also want them to know that we are a group of parents that won’t back down."