School for disabled slated to shut says DPS Emergency Manager, parents and students protest

Students, parents and supporters protest the planned closing of  Oakman Elementary Orthopedic School which specializes in teaching children with disabilities, outside the headquarters of Detroit Public Schools Thursday, May 23, 2013.

Last month, Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts announced he will shut Oakman Elementary Orthopedic School. One of four DPS schools listed to be closed, Oakman, offers special services to children with a wide range of disabilities that mainstream schools cannot provide. Although DPS spokesman Steven Wasko states attendance is down, the school’s enrollment has actually increased over the past two years. Wasko also claims that the school needs an estimated $900,000 worth of improvements in order to operate properly, which has been disputed by staff, parents and others outside of the school district.

In an apparent effort to quell dissent about the school’s closing, DPS informed parents, students and staff that the school building had been sold off, when in fact they had only just put it up for sale. The price tag: $46,000. After the protest, parents and supporters started taking up a collection to put a downpayment on the school and avert the sale. They also plan to file an injunction in an effort to block DPS action against the school.