Press Release - District's Rush to Close Neighborhood Schools Leaves Families With Few Options

Press Release - District’s Rush to Close Neighborhood Schools Leaves Families With Few Options

For Immediate Release: July 22, 2013

Contact: Sue Vang 916.668.9447     

PRESS RELEASE

District’s Rush to Close Neighborhood Schools Leaves Families With Few Options
Plaintiffs Will Continue To Hold SCUSD Accountable

SACRAMENTO, CA –Despite empirical data and comprehensive evidence demonstrating Sacramento City Unified School District’s (District) plan to deliberately close seven elementary schools in predominately low-income and racial minority neighborhoods, U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller ruled that the District was already too far along in the school closure process to reverse course.

Upon receiving the news, plaintiffs and parents from throughout the community react with somber disappointment. As Lisa Romero, a parent plaintiff and the Vice President of Joseph Bonnheim’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA), describes, “While I respect Judge Mueller’s decision, I am heartbroken by the terrible consequences these school closures will have on my children and our neighborhood. As parents, all we can hope for is that our children are given the best opportunity to succeed. Today’s decision upholds a process that ignored parents and allowed the District to blatantly target low-income and minority communities. As a parent, you hope that the Superintendent and Board Members are looking out for your best interest—in this case, they willingly sold out our children’s future in exchange for less than 0.1% of the District’s revenues.”

Mark Merin, attorney for Plaintiffs, states, “It’s very hard to prove that the decision to close specific schools was motivated by an intent to discriminate against the minority neighborhoods in which those schools are located. It is especially difficult when we were prevented from showing that the reasons given for closing schools, or for selecting those specific schools for closure, such as budgetary reasons or efficiency, were pretextual, but we still have an opportunity to do that as this litigation goes forward. What groups and individuals want and will continue to strive for, is equal, quality education for all children in Sacramento, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or national origin.”

Moving forward from Judge Mueller’s ruling, students, parents and community members vowed to hold the decision makers who deliberately silenced the community’s voice accountable. Sue Vang, an organizer with Hmong Innovating Politics (HIP), a grassroots organization that has been mobilizing displaced families, states, “Today’s decision does not change the fact that the trust between parents and the Superintendent along with members of the Board of Education has been severely damaged. By ignoring state guidelines and the District’s own 7/11 Committee criteria, the Superintendent achieved his relentless pursuit of downsizing neighborhood schools in historically disenfranchised communities. In the process, the District left parents disempowered and students with much uncertainty about their future. The communities that were targeted will not forget the deliberate actions of the Superintendent and the Board Members who voted for this plan.”

**HIP is a grassroots-organizing group whose mission is to strengthen the political power of Hmong and disenfranchised communities through innovative civic engagement and strategic grassroots mobilization. We envision a Sacramento of empowered communities that thrive in a socially and economically just democracy.**

Press Release - District's Rush to Close Neighborhood Schools Leaves Families With Few Options