Oxford School Board sparks controversy over separate school proposal

Posted on Sep 30 2016 - 9:04am by Lyndy Berryhill

Protesters gathered at the Oxford Middle School Thursday night in outrage over the possibility of a separate school for low-income students.

According to Oxford High School’s school newspaper, The Charger, Oxford School Board Superintendent Brian Harvey invited John Hodge of the Urban Learning and Leadership Center, an organization focused on improving educational performance of poorer students.

Hodge met with the board to give a presentation on their services and to discuss the possibility adding an additional school to the district for low-income students who qualify for free or reduced lunches.

After the article began making traction online, community members and graduates of Oxford High began voicing their opinions on social media, calling the idea “segregation.”

“I don’t know how to express my emotions concerning this ‘opt-in’ school for low income students in the Oxford School District,” Chad Knight, Oxford High School graduate, wrote in a Facebook post.

Knight, who is currently a senior majoring in business management at Ole Miss, said he understands the need for a better educational programs, but singling out lower-income students means singling out African-American students.

“I am extremely disappointed,” Knight said in his post. “I know there are other measures that can be taken to close the achievement gap.”

Knight said he was not at the protest later that day, but he does plan to attend the next OSD School Board meeting Monday,Oct. 10 with a group of concerned community members.

At 7:35 p.m. Thursday evening, Harvey addressed the protesters who gathered more than an hour before.

“We’re not going to have a separate school,” Harvey said. “This started at the very heart of it to increase student achievement.”

Harvey said the school board started looking for ways to increase student performance earlier this year in June. An education group came from Virginia

“Where we are is just in the investigation stages of how we can improve education for all of our students,” Harvey said to protesters.