More than a dozen parents attending a hearing Tuesday night questioned program changes proposed by Prince George’s County Schools chief executive Kevin M. Maxwell that would require some students to go to different schools next year.
The hearing was an opportunity for the public to weigh in on school boundary changes and new specialty programs. Maxwell is scheduled to seek the Board of Education’s approval Tuesday.
Some of the parents objected to Maxwell’s plans to make Cesar Chavez Elementary School in Chillum one of three sites that will have a Spanish immersion program, a move that would phase out the neighborhood school beginning with kindergartners in August.
“We’re being asked to uproot our children from their lives as they know it,” said Liliana Cruz, president of the Cesar Chavez Parent Teacher Organization.
Cruz said that her daughter was heartbroken when she was told about the plan, which would require the fourth-grader to change schools.
Carlos Hernandez, a parent of a child at Cesar Chavez, said it was unfair to remove students from their neighborhood school.
“How would you feel if you were told your child’s school was being improved, but they would have to go to another school for the improvements to take place?” Hernandez said.
Other parents criticized a plan to shift sixth-graders from four elementary schools to middle schools. For years, the county has been slowly placing sixth-graders in schools with seventh- and eighth-graders.
Sandra Collier, president of the Parent Teacher Association at Barack Obama Elementary School in Upper Marlboro, said 11-year-olds are not prepared to stay at home alone and middle schools do not offer after-school care.
She said if the school moves forward with its plan, she will be “one of those middle-class parents that will move out of the public school system.”
Johndel F. Jones-Brown, director of the department of pupil accounting and school boundaries, said that though moving sixth-graders eases crowding at elementary schools, the “overlying motivation is academics.”