Parents protest decision to shut down school - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Parents protest decision to shut down school

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Letter ACLU wrote to the school board. Letter ACLU wrote to the school board.
Letter ACLU wrote to the school board. Letter ACLU wrote to the school board.
Letter ACLU wrote to the school board. Letter ACLU wrote to the school board.

OCEANSIDE (CBS 8) - Oceanside parents are angry, after a decision to close down Jefferson Middle School and replace it with a charter school. 

On Tuesday night, parents gathered to demand answers from the school district. 

Critics protested outside the Oceanside Unified School District headquarters denouncing the reason for turning a middle school into a charter school because of declining enrollment. 

Parents expressed fears it will operate like a private school, and the ACLU now has a seat at the table getting requirements changed so all students have equal access. 

Last month, the school district approved the plan to shut down Jefferson Middle School, and replace it with the charter Orange County School of the Arts San Diego County Branch by the start of the next school year. 

Currently, Jefferson Middle school is predominately a Latino school. 

"We know this is going to create obstacles. This is going to push children out the school," said Iris Mendoza with the Human Rights Council of Oceanside. 

Under the approved plan, Jefferson would transition to a magnet school for students K-6th. The charter school would teach alongside grades 7th to 12th grade. 

"I want to be at Jefferson. I don't want to go to anywhere else but here because this is a really, really beautiful place," said Yuridia Lagunas, a sixth-grade student at Jefferson Middle School. 

Some parents, however, are supporting the charter school, which said it will invest millions of dollars over the next several years to build dance studios, music, and visual arts and science for 800 students. 

"Charter schools are great, it gives children an opportunity for different types of areas that they are better in," said Krystal Conner, a Jefferson Middle School parent. 

Last week, the ACLU sent a letter to the school board calling the move "unlawful" and not providing equal education. 

Since then, the superintendent, the ACLU and the charter school have met and are working to rectify the original requirements of a 2.0 GPA and auditions for conservatories. 

"This is an opportunity for those kids in that neighborhood and all Oceanside unified that they don't have," said Dr. Duane Coleman, Ph.D, Oceanside Unified School Superintendent. 

Students who do not stay at Jefferson will be placed at Mission or Laurel elementaries, which will expand to 8th grade. 

Dr. Coleman said it will be costly to expand, and the financial impact is still being worked out. 

Protesters are expected to voice their concerns at the next school board meeting on November 10. 

Currently, hundreds of students in San Diego County already commute to the Orange County School of the Arts in Santa Ana everyday. 

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