A number of parents and students voiced their willingness to fight to keep Pathways Middle College open at a meeting on campus April 29.
Pathways students and faculty were recently notified by letter from Oklahoma City Public Schools Executive Director of Secondary Education and Reform Tamie Sanders that the school will permanently close at the end of the current school year.
The letter reads, in part: “While we believe the school has been successful in meeting some of the specific needs of our students and the community, the program has failed to grow in the past decade and other education options are available that provide similar programs.”
Pathways is an alternative education school that has been housed on the third floor of the Main Building for more than a decade. OCCC partly helps fund the public school that caters to about 100 eighth- through 12th-grade students, many of whom take college course during their senior year.
Pathways Principal Carol Brogan said the meeting was held in hopes of getting the parents and students to lobby for Pathways Middle College to remain open.
Pathways student Joey Wash, 17, attended the meeting.
“The meeting was an amazing experience,” Wash said. “It was very obvious [the parents and teachers] really [care] about the school and that they were willing enough to come up here and show that … .”
Brogan said she was notified about the closing at 4 p.m. Friday, April 25.
She said the news came as a shock.
“To say I was appalled is mild,” Brogan said. “To say that I’ve been blindsided is an understatement. And there was a part of me that was angry because there was nothing that had been talked about before.”
Pathways student Brian Ragsdale, 18, said he and his classmates are stunned.
“Everyone was pretty devastated,” Ragsdale said.
He said those at the meeting were scrambling to find an answer.
“Everyone was worried about what was going to happen to Pathways and the students [and] where they were going to go,” Ragsdale said.
Brogan said informing her staff members and faculty was difficult.
“How do you hand people that you love and respect [a letter] and say, ‘you did a hell of a job but it’s too late. There’s no fixing this one.’”
In the letter, Sanders outlined a number of alternate education substitutes for those students who would have returned to Pathways in the fall.
• Return to their home school
• Attend one of ten (10) National Academy Foundation career themed academies
• Apply for online courses through iOKCPS Innovations K-12 Virtual Institute
As far as the Pathways teachers, Sanders said they would have the “opportunity to apply for positions in the district for next school year.”
As of late Wednesday afternoon, an online petition supporting the school had 300 signatures. Housed at a website called The Petition Site, its creator Sammy Johnson, wrote the following:
“On April 25th, 2014, the Interim Superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools, Mr. Dave Lopez, informed the principal of Pathways Middle College High School, Carol Brogan, that as of June 30th, 2014, Pathways will be shut down. Since opening in 2001, Pathways has maintained a graduation rate of 99%, with more than 95% of the students going on to universities or the armed forces. The school, located on the main campus of Oklahoma City Community College, receives 1.3 million dollars from the college in both financial support and hospitality, while only receiving $400,000 of funding from the Oklahoma City Public School District. The decision to shut down the school was made with no due process or input from the parents, the students, the teachers, or the community.”
A Facebook page named Save Pathways also has been created and can be found at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008284896011&fref=ufi.
The Pioneer is following this story, which will be updated as new information becomes available.
To contact Bryce McElhaney, email firstname.lastname@example.org.