‘We are here to stay’ — Parents, teachers angered by potential Kalamazoo school closures

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Two schools in the Kalamazoo Public Schools are at risk of being closed in the next 45 days. Parents and teachers of Woodward School for Technology and Research and Washington Writer's Academy voiced their concerns to the district Wednesday night during a community forum.

According to the state's school reform office, the schools would be closed because in standardized test scores they are in the bottom five percent in Michigan. The office has identified 38 schools across Michigan to potentially shut down.

"We just want to let Lansing know our kids are more than a standardized test score," said Jim Seaman, whose daughter attends Woodward.

He is hoping she can continue to attend the school. "She is above expectations academically," he said. "She is doing amazing. Woodward is hands down the best school I have had any part of."

Lanisha Hannah-Spiller, principal at another school, Washington Writer's Academy, is facing the same uncertainty. The school is also possibly on the chopping block due to low standardized test scores, but she says the scores are not a fair representation of the school.

She says Washington has done wonders for her family, especially her son.

"My 5-year-old, my baby boy, attends Washington Writers Academy," Hannah-Spiller said to the gathering. "It is not out of convenience, but because I knew what he needed. He needed Washington."

What puzzled a lot of the parents and teachers at Wednesday's forum is that they say the system that is threatening to shut these schools down is a broken one.

"These schools that are on this list are at the bottom five percent in the state," said Valerie Bader, a parent involvement liaison at Woodward told FOX 17. "But how percentages work, there will always be a bottom five percent in the state. So that itself is part of the problem."

"And they fact that they have never stepped foot in our building stays a lot about the ridiculousness about this," Bader said.

If the schools do close, students could go to other schools in the district or change districts.

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