Parents and Students Demonstrate on Behalf of Special Needs and Spanish-Speaking Students at Roosevelt Elementary, To No Avail

Published : Thursday, September 26, 2019 | 1:27 PM

Parents expressed their disappointment and frustration at the proposed closure of Roosevelt Elementary School with a “strike” in the parking lot Thursday morning ahead of the day’s decisive Board of Education Board meeting.

In the end, their fears were realized. The School Board voted 4-3 to close Roosevelt because of shrinking enrollment District-wide.

Jefferson and Franklin Elementary schools will also be closed at the end of this school year, the Board decided.

The parents of some special needs children, in particular, made their voices heard, saying they would be hit particularly hard by the closures.

“I am protesting because honestly it’s basically for the kids with special needs,” said Diana Montano, a parent at Roosevelt. “This school has 40 percent of the kids with special needs. I had my daughter here last year. She has Down Syndrome. She now is in sixth grade, she actually started coming to the school since she was three years old. ”

As the mother of a special needs child attending a public school child, the atmosphere at the school has been supportive and nurturing, she said, allowing her child to move freely and feel welcome.

“This school is just very comfortable,” she said. “It is perfect for all kids with special needs, there’s no steps, nothing that prevents the kids from walking around, running around freely throughout the school. This school also likes to get all the kids from regular ed and special ed together in different, different situations.

“I was actually really happy every time I would walk through school with my daughter,” she said. “And most of the kids, if not all of the kids from school knew her by name and would always say hi to her and try to talk to her and try to play with her. Nothing that I’ve seen in any other school.”

Does she think the kids will get the same treatment at another school?

“No, I really don’t think so,” she said. “Mainly because honestly I went to school here. I went to a few elementary schools and that I can remember none of the schools was like this. All the schools have some type of stairs and steps. And this school the kids can walk throughout the school. And I love the way the teachers, the principal, everyone here tries to get all the kids together. ”

Hernandez said while there are plans coming together that would include the possibility of sending her child to Madison, it is a big change for everyone.

“Actually the other school they’re trying to send them to, Madison, it is actually on streets that are very narrow,” she said. “There is a lot of traffic with all the students there. Now imagine how much more traffic there would be with over 300 more students and that’s including about 10 special ed classes.

Making the adjustment is difficult, she said.

“For kids with special needs it is very hard to get used to another school,” she said. “That’s what they need to think about.”

Another parent, Yanet Gonzalez said she was considering pulling her children out of the public school and put them in a private school.

“We’re protesting because we wanted to prove how much money the (district) could lose if we don’t send them to school today,” Gonzalez said. “We want them to see how much money they could lose without them.”

“They’re going to start doing this in October, not only elementary schools but also middle schools and high schools,” “Let’s say Roosevelt closed, what’s going to happen?”

Gonzalez said there is confusion and in general the parents are dissatisfied and have not gotten answers. Another factor is a majority of families whose children attend Roosevelt are Latino, there is a language barrier.

“They have been doing things behind parents,” she said. “I created flyers and I gave them to the parents to let them know what’s going on. A lot of parents showed up at the board meeting. They said ‘We’re going to talk about our plan.’ There was an interpreter but when they started to talk about the plan, the interpreter left and the parents were not able to know what they were talking about so a lot of parents left with questions.”

Gonzalez said she would not attend tonight’s meeting and she is frustrated because she thinks the decisions have already been made.

“I would rather be in church and pray,” she said.






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