SBCSC talks transition process after board votes to close Clay HS

Published: Apr. 18, 2023 at 5:47 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - A day after the school board voted to close Clay High School and Warren Elementary, South Bend Community School Corporation Assistant Superintendent Kareemah Fowler addressed the media.

“I would say that our entire district will be impacted. And I say that because you have some areas that will be impacted more than others, like with Clay High School closing. However, if you have students going from Clay to another high school, that impacts that high school as well,” stated Fowler.

Clay High School will close starting in the 2024-2025 academic year. In the meantime, Fowler said the next steps in the transition process include talking to families who are immediately impacted; establishing boundary line committee groups; and working through transition team information.

While there is an internal process regarding faculty and staff transfers, the district said it is too soon to specify the exact process.

“When they go into a school, we want to make sure they’re the right fit, and they’re in a place that they feel like they belong,” Fowler said.

Local attorney Peter Agostino said he has spoken with Clay High School families who are deeply concerned about the school closing, adding he believes SBCSC was not forthcoming about the transition plan.

“It’s kind of like trying to fly an airplane while you’re trying to build it. And I think that, that’s a dangerous place,” remarked Agostino. “If they have a transition plan, they should have shared it. And they didn’t. In fact I don’t think one’s even referenced in any of the reports that I’ve seen so far.”

Fowler disagrees.

“I’d say yes, we do have a written transition plan in place. And if you go through the Q and A’s, you go through the Facilities Recommendations, a lot of the full plan is going to reflect a lot of the information that’s already out there. However, to really put a plan in place, you really gotta have all the stakeholders at the table, and you know, we don’t want to get ahead of our board. We don’t want to get ahead of our community,” Fowler explained.

Agostino said families could sue the district for reasons such as how the school closing impacts minority students; students with learning disabilities; as well as students involved in extracurricular activities.

Fowler said any legal action would not deter the plan that was approved at the Monday board meeting.