Community feels silenced after HISD tables vote on Dodson closure indefinitely

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by Drew Karedes / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on April 10, 2014 at 10:10 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 10 at 10:20 PM

HOUSTON -- A community given one more chance at saving an elementary school from closure feels silenced by the school board.

Dodson Elementary was among a list of five schools recommended for closure by Houston Independent School District earlier this year.

It’s now the only school in the district slated to close its doors.

The board voted 5-4 to close Dodson in March. However, board president Juliet Stipeche says she’s since heard a great deal of input from concerned citizens and has had time to review more facts.

Stipeche, who voted with the majority in March to close Dodson, decided to bring the item back to the board for consideration.

“I was hoping we’d have an opportunity to look at other options,” explained Juliet Stipeche. “I’m very disappointed with the outcome.”

Stipeche was outnumbered.

The board decided to table the vote on Dodson indefinitely in a 5-3 vote on Thursday. Parents and activists who signed up to speak at the board meeting weren’t allowed to do so.

“This was just to appease the community and the news media and to appease everybody else but the parents,” said parent Darline Houston. “They don’t care.”

The community feels that the decision to table a vote indefinitely is a slap in the face.

“The president of the board put this agenda item back on,” said activist Assata Richards. “You’re going to vote the way you’re going to vote but to not hear me.”

Gayle Fallon, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, is on the community’s side.

“I’m really disgusted with this board right now. They seem to forget that the taxpayers own this district. They pay for it. They have the right to have their voice heard,” said Gayle Fallon.

Stipeche says the Montessori program at Dodson will continue at nearby Blackshear Elementary next year. She says the entire community, including the principal, teachers and support staff, has the opportunity to transfer.

KHOU asked Stipeche if there’s any chance of Dodson staying open.

“With this being tabled indefinitely, I think a final decision has been made,” she said. “It’s sad. It’s unfortunate.”

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