The parents of Southwest Early College Campus students already have been through a lot during the school’s often dramatic five-year history.
On Thursday night, about a dozen took up the district’s open invitation to come talk about a new, equally dramatic proposal to turn the school over to Academie Lafayette to make it an international charter high school.
The hardest part about this idea? Some of their children could be left out.
Tanika Evans’ son will be a junior this year and would be a senior when Academie Lafayette hopes to open its school in the fall of 2015.
Under the current proposal — which is out for public input and still needs the approval of their school boards — Kansas City Public Schools students would have to pass a selective academic test to gain enrollment with the charter students.
“What about my child?” Evans asked.
He has been “pushed and pushed” through difficult years, and he and current Southwest students like him need to keep their footing, she said.
“Why not let them stay?”
There were no fixed answers from district teams leading the discussion. The evening was meant as an early step in gathering community impressions on what would be for Missouri an unprecedented union between a district and charter to increase public school opportunities.
“This is great feedback,” said the district’s chief financial officer, Al Tunis.
The district previously had an initial meeting with a group of Southwest juniors who would be affected in their senior year if the plan went through.
Those students, the parents were told, wanted to know if they could stick together in whatever choices they are given to move.
The district is interested in making that happen, spokeswoman Eileen Houston-Stewart said.
It is listening to ideas on how the district could make their senior year special.
The district reopened the school at 6512 Wornall Road in 2008 as an early college campus teamed with several partners, including the University of Missouri-Kansas City, to give students college-like experience and credits.
It was not a selective school, but a smaller program that required parents and families to make commitments to a more rigorous program.
But the district expanded the school as a general high school when it closed many buildings in 2010. The early college program unraveled amid highly publicized discipline problems and disruptions.
Promises to restore the program were not kept, parent Elisha Verge said.
The new proposal — which would relocate students again — could spark more disruptions where they land.
Instead of shuffling students out, he said, the district should “give them the resources to restore the school they had.”
The district intends to meet with students one by one over the course of the year to talk about options for them in the district.
Southwest student Lateef Kane, 16, will be a senior and will graduate before proposed changes would happen, “but I still care about the people coming behind me,” he said.
“You can’t just send those students off” to other district high schools.
The district will be holding more meetings, taking community feedback July 8 and July 22 at Paseo Academy, 4747 Flora Ave., beginning both nights at 6 p.m.
Another parent meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. July 17 at Paseo.
To reach Joe Robertson, call 816-234-4789 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.