City of Benton Harbor pushes back on state's plan to close high school

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (WNDU) - The City of Benton Harbor held a press conference Thursday in response to the state’s proposed plan to close down Benton Harbor High School.

“How can you save a city and kill the schools?”

That is the question the city of Benton harbor is asking after the state proposed a plan to close down Benton Harbor High School after the 2020 school year.

However, some Benton Harbor natives say Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer does not have the answers when it comes to knowing what’s best for their community.

“They decided that they want to take what we have built -- take what we have held on to and move us out,” National Active Network Michigan pastor Rev. Charles E. Williams II said.

“What makes you think we trust you to educate our kids,” Williams said.

According to the Michigan Department of Education, students have struggled with enrollment and low graduation rates. Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad says he does not agree.

“They have manipulated the data, they skewed it,” Muhammad said.

“We not stupid. We know what you doing in Benton Harbor because we know what happens in Benton Harbor is only a test case for what they are going to do in Pontiac, what they are going to do in Flint, and what they are going to do in Detroit,” Williams said.

If the plan does roll out, students will have no choice but to choose from one of seven surrounding districts.

The school board has until next Friday to respond to the plan. If they reject it, the district and every student in it could be dissolved somewhere else.

“Since I’ve been in the second grade, I’ve heard that my school is going to shut down. I’m a senior now – that’s a decade,” Benton Harbor High School Class President Quincy Sulton said.

Since the city of Benton Harbor started the press conference with one question, they wanted to end with another, specifically for Governor Whitmer.

“The question we ask from Benton Harbor Michigan tonight…who have you made a deal with to close down our schools?”

Governor Whiter has been asked to join the next school board at Benton Harbor High School on June 4th.