Coalition Rallies against School Closings

Dorothy Rowley | 3/6/2013, 1 p.m.

Parisa Norouzi, founder of the Northwest-based Empower DC, said her group, which advocates on behalf of community interests, has been fighting school closings since 2010, and is in the process of filing a lawsuit. Empower DC has also called for a one-year moratorium on school closings, she said.

Norouzi alluded to the two dozen schools that were shuttered in 2008. She said many of those buildings were "given away to developers" who turned them into upscale condominiums.

Despite the backlash, Henderson remains firm about the closings, and has turned her attention to retaining students in a system which has seen a marked decline in enrollment in recent years. At the height of its enrollment in the1980s, DCPS boasted 80,000 students. But over the years, that number has continued to drop, with enrollment now at less than 40,000 students.

In an effort to attract and retain students, as outlined in her "Transition Marketing and Recruitment Plan," Henderson wrote in a recent letter to Council Member David Catania (I-At Large), chairman of the education committee, that an aggressive recruitment strategy that will also strengthen programs and curriculums at city schools, is being coordinated with school officials at schools that are closing and those that are preparing to receive displaced students.