ACCESS Academy protest gets PPS attention

The school for accelerated learners faces a possible closure

Students at Access Academy in Portland walk out in protest over a plan to close the school, October 17, 2017 (KOIN)
Students at Access Academy in Portland walk out in protest over a plan to close the school, October 17, 2017 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — About 50 students from the ACCESS Academy briefly walked out of school Tuesday morning in protest of a plan to close the school.

It may have worked.

The school for accelerated learners faces a possible closure under a new Portland Public Schools plan. The Rose City Park Building would be turned into a traditional K-5 elementary school, and ACCESS Academy would spread out to 8 different campuses.

But after much outcry, parents told KOIN 6 News Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero described his desire to find a new home for ACCESS and expressed a commitment to working with the community.

At a meeting on Monday, Guerrero said he will meet with the ACCESS families and start brainstorming ideas.

Parents hope that happens soon, and they said the school brings kids together from all over the city to provide a challenging curriculum.

“These are kids that have really struggled to fit in and have their needs met at their neighborhood schools for years,” parent Catherine Beckett said. “They’ve had to fight to get in here because it’s not big enough to accommodate all the kids who need it and they would be devastated if it closed.”

Beyond the educational value, students have made connections with kids from other neighborhoods who they’d miss.

“I have a lot of friends here and they don’t live close to me and I wont be able to see them as much,” student Elise Yu said.

Both parents and students said they will continue to fight for a new school and plan to meet with new PPS Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero Tuesday night.

In a statement, Jennifer Ellis, ACCESS PTA president said,

We thank the Superintendent for his leadership in keeping ACCESS united and on prioritizing bold vision to grow TAG services across the district. We look forward to working with the Superintendent and the PPS board of directors as they develop plans for ACCESS and for expanded TAG services throughout the district. However, our community has been through a lot of turmoil in the last week, and while we’re glad to see the District and Board take steps to preserve our program – they have still not identified a location for our school next year. This is an urgent matter that needs an urgent resolution.”