In Wake Of School Closings, Parents Search For Options

By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It’s been eight days since the School Reform Commission voted to shutter 23 public schools in Philadelphia (see related story). Students and parents at closing schools are wondering what’s next.

“We don’t know. It’s a sad situation,” says Jean Briscoe. Her granddaughters Jaylen and Ameera attend Fulton Elementary in Germantown.

Reporter: “What grade are you in?”

Jaylen/Ameera: “First.” “Kindergarten.”

Briscoe says the family does not want their girls to attend Emlen or Wister as recommended by the School District, so they are evaluating other options.

“I’m hoping that they’ll be able to go to private school,” she says, “but I don’t know. Their mother would make that decision.”

Juanita Blunt’s daughter Quadira has Asberger’s Syndrome. She is in the 11th grade at CommTec- a school with roughly 400 students. But once it closes, she says Quadira will have to got to Bartram, a school that is nearly four-times that size.

“She goes to therapy and stuff to build her social skills,” says Blunt. “But I feel like if she goes to Bartram it’s not going to be the same, because it’s a much larger environment. She would have to deal with more students and their attitudes. But, she is comfortable at CommTech.”

Blunt says she is on the search for another small high school environment so that she can help Quadira get into college next year. “This is really hard,” she says.

Parents say their choices are to move to another district, transfer to a charter or private school or simply to accept the bitter pill of the closures and move their kids to yet another public school.

“I’m stuck, I’m in limbo,” says Tracey Harper. Her two daughters — in 9th and 11th grade — attend CommTech. “I feel like we don’t have nothing in Southwest [Philadelphia].”

Harper, who recently earned her high school diploma through a program at Audenreid High School says she wants her daughters to finish high school.

“Education is a privilege,” says Harper. “I want the best for my kids. I don’t view charter schools as the best opportunity. I want my kids to get a public school education.”

She says she is in constant contact with her daughters’ teachers, but says her hands feel tied and she doesn’t know what the future holds.

“What do I do? Call the School District and ask what are my options,” says Harper. “There are no options! Everything is locked!”

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