Rhode Island Lawyers for the Public Interest

Providence Public School Parents and Students File Legal Motion to Require Engagement and Transparency in Schools Takeover

Updated 9/12/19.

On September 4th, a group of high school students and Providence parents on behalf of their children filed a motion with the RI Department of Education demanding that a clear plan for the district be shared with the public before it is implemented. Parents and students were joined by representatives of several organizations that serve Providence youth, including Youth in Action (YIA), Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM), Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education (ARISE), and Providence Student Union (PSU).

The group, represented by the Rhode Island Center for Justice, is asking the Commissioner of Education to ensure that there is a formal role for parents and students to preview and weigh in on the plan for improving the city’s schools, the leaders who will implement it, and the goals, progress and criteria for success for the plan.

Community members are advancing two main arguments in their legal motion:

  1. Students in the Providence public schools and their parents have a clear, strong, personal stake – perhaps the most important stake — in the success of the district, and therefore have a legal right to participate in decisions about the takeover; and
  2. Parents and students of the Providence public schools ask that RIDE put formal, enforceable mechanisms for accountability, transparency and community inclusion in their plan for the takeover.

In their motion, the parents, students and community groups are saying to the state: “No one has a greater stake in demanding improvements in the schools than parents and students, and no turnaround will succeed without a clear plan that includes the community.”

“There is nothing more important to me than ensuring that my daughter gets the education she needs and deserves,” said Koren Carbuccia, the mother of a second grader.  “I’m joining the hearing because I need to know that parents and students are going to be consulted about what will work best for our children’s future.”

“Providence students have been fighting for more effective, culturally responsive education for years.  Now there is going to be a state intervention and we have a right to be a formal part of that,” said Paola Mejia, a senior at the Juanita Sanchez Educational Complex. “We live the Providence Public Schools experience every day.  We know what we need and we’ve been telling local and state leaders that for a long time.  It’s not optional to include us: We have a right to be heard.”

Update:

The “show cause” hearing has a new start time and location: It is now scheduled for September 13th at 9am at the Brown School of Professional Studies building, 225 Dyer St. in Providence.

On September 10th, RIDE filed its opposition to petitioners’ motion to intervene. The Center for Justice responded with its own memorandum on behalf of parents, students, and student organizations on September 11th.

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