News Article Details

Parents, teachers sound off in aftermath of W. Roxbury school closings

Boston Herald - 12/21/2018

Dec. 21--David Venter is one of many parents left picking up the pieces after the School Committee voted to shut down two schools Wednesday night.

"This is my son's eighth school and I'm tired of it," a frustrated Venter told the Herald Thursday. "You feel like you're back at square one."

As the Herald reported Tuesday, Venter's son Joshua is a student with autism at Urban Science Acadamy, a school that David finally found to be inclusive after instances of bullying at prior schools.

In a 5-1 vote, the Committee decided Wednesday to close West Roxbury Academy and Urban Science Academy at the end of the school year. The closures will take effect June 30, 2019.

Except for incoming seniors who will be kept together through graduation in the Irving Middle School building, the rest of the students will be dispersed throughout the district.

The students from the West Roxbury campus will have first priority in transfer and assignment picks, and the district has vowed to help guide families through the transfer process.The decision will displace more than 600 students and nearly 100 faculty. The Boston Collaborative High School will also be displaced, as the West Roxbury Academy seniors will take over their area in Irving. Though Boston Collaborative was in a temporary location, officials only told administration last week of the change.

Parents and teachers said they weren't shocked by the vote, adding that they knew what the result was a long time ago.

"They made that decision well before they rolled out the proposal," Venter said. "All these hearings were just formalities."

Allison Doherty, a teacher at Urban Science Acadamy said, "When the committee asked if parents and teachers were involved and were told no, that spoke volumes."

"I am not surprised by the vote, we knew," she said. "It is a huge disappointment but it's not a shocker. There was no collaboration, no sit down with us that wasn't just them telling us their plan, they didn't ask us to sit at the table so we knew it was just going to be bobbleheads."

Doherty said the day after the vote was emotional and that all they could do as teachers was hug their kids and tell them "that it was going to be OK."

"We'll just keep going on and regroup to figure out how we can support our students, but right now we just want to make it through today and tomorrow," Doherty said.

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