CLEVELAND — The city school superintendent is running into neighborhood opposition to a proposal to create several all-boy and all-girl schools.
The proposal by schools Chief Executive Eugene Sanders was welcomed in February, but the details, including which schools might be affected, have generated opposition from some parents.
Sanders wants to set up all-boy and all-girl classes in three existing schools and one closed school, starting with kindergarten through second grade in the fall and adding a grade each year.
About 100 parents and students at Miles Park Elementary School turned out for a community meeting and criticized Sanders for deciding to turn the new building into a school for girls. Current students would be transferred to the new school more than a mile away.
At another meeting the same evening, about 200 people at Louis Agassiz Elementary were so loud and angry that police were called. Agassiz will become an all-boys school with neighborhood students reassigned to Wilbur Wright Elementary a half-mile away.
“You’re breaking up our family,” said Angela Evans, mother of a Miles Park student.
Parents vowed to send their students to parochial or charter schools if Sanders does not change his plans, which he indicated are final.
“We’ve been lied to and betrayed,” said Barbara Rogers, a parent.
Councilwoman Dona Brady said Sanders made a mistake by not including the parents and City Council in his decision.
“The trust factor is gone. Do you think these people will ever support a levy again?” she asked.
In his talk to Miles Park parents, Sanders admitted that the district has made planning mistakes in the past and that he could have communicated better with parent groups.
The Rev. Alan Gates of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights, whose members volunteer at Miles Park, responded that a mistake shouldn’t be corrected with another mistake.
Enrollment in Cleveland schools has dropped by about 10,000 students to about 58,000 in the past 10 years, in part due to charter schools and vouchers that pay nonpublic school tuition for youngsters.