Protesters Take Schools Issue to Mayor's Home

James Wright | 1/16/2013, 1:14 p.m.

More than 50 people holding candles and flash lights, stood in the freezing rain on Jan. 15 at Mayor Vincent Gray's house on Branch Avenue in Southeast to express opposition to Chancellor Kaya Henderson's controversial school closings proposal.

The proposal would close or consolidate under-enrolled and under-performing schools with public charter schools. Many of the targeted schools are in wards 5, 7 and 8 -- with the majority of them located in the Anacostia community.

"We want to know why are they closing so many schools in Ward 8 when a large number of the city's children live in this ward," said Trayon White, Ward 8 school board member. "We have had meetings with the chancellor and with people in the community about this. We have not seen progress . . . and enough is enough."

Protest organizers had suggested that residents contact Gray all day on Tuesday to demand that their neighborhood schools remain open. As expected, Gray was not home when the protestors arrived, but his house was guarded by members of the District's police force.

Gray's spokesperson Doxie McCoy said the mayor was aware of the protest, and that in working on the proposal, he included all facets of the community.

"The mayor and the chancellor have held many community meetings on this issue, and they have tried to listen to everyone's thoughts on this subject," McCoy said.

Since announcing her proposal this past fall, Henderson has participated in several of the community meetings that were held to garner public input.

Residents have also developed lists of alternative plans that have been forwarded to Henderson. Among them are student recruitment campaigns and placing tighter deadlines on schools undergoing renovations.

However, after consulting with the mayor, Henderson is expected to announce her decision by the end of this week.