Across north Texas, school will be out for the summer by the end of today. Many districts ended yesterday, including DISD. Emotions ran high at one Dallas school, because it will not re-open in the fall.
Teachers, parents and students from nine Dallas schools have known this day was coming since January. That’s when Dallas trustees approved nine school closures to save $11.5 million. Two more schools will close later. At Arlington Park Learning Center, near the Dallas hospital district, some parents, including Robert Jones, held signs reading “Don’t Close Arlington Park School.
Jones: We’re not taking “no” for an answer. They can find the money. Nothing is wrong with this school. Kids love this school. Everything’s working.
Jones knows odds are against him. But this African American man says just look at slavery.
Jones: There wasn’t a chance in hell we would get out of slavery. But we got out. We just never gave up.
Fifth grader Kyla London isn’t giving up. She’s using a technique that created this school 55 years ago. That’s when Sam Tasby launched a petition drive so Black residents could send their children to a neighborhood school. Arlington Park was the result. But when his kids got older, they couldn’t attend the nearby middle school, because of segregation. Tasby sued and won, changing DISD forever. Kyla London learned from Tasby, and with tears, talked about it during last-day ceremonies at Arlington Park.
London: I started the petition because I heard the school was closing and I didn’t’ know what I was going to do and I was trying my best to keep the school open. Then I found out more information and I know how I can probably keep the school open with my own hopes and my own heart.
Former Dallas school board member Se-Gwen Tyler, hugging London, says she’s also fighting to keep Arlington Park open.
Tyler: This is my community, this is my family. This is all we have.
Principal Nikkia Smith proudly wears a blue polo shirt showing her Arlington Park school has earned the state’s “recognized” rating five years running. Nearly every student here comes from a low income family. Out of 230 students, a third are considered homeless. Smith hoped the school would stay open.
Smith: We’re not as happy as we could be about the decision but we understand the decision and we’re thinking about children first. So that’s what we’ll be doing today - be strong for our children.
Smith says nearly every member of her team has found jobs at other DISD schools. Eight will follow her to Bayles Elementary near White Rock Lake. The same number will transfer to Hernandez near Arlington Park, so next year’s students will see familiar faces.