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Revoking our promised building - 10 minutes before spring break - effectively prevented any of these 350 children and families from being able to apply to any alternative school that would serve these children at their rate and level.

CONTRIBUTED - Michael McGarryI am writing on behalf of 350 children, PPS students currently being educated at ACCESS Academy, ages 6 to 14, children of taxpaying citizens, members of families who depend on PPS for a stable and appropriate education.

This community exists not because they live near each other, or because they share the same ethnicity, or because they are learning the same second language.

This group of children is together because PPS correctly created a program to assure that they are educated at their appropriate rate and level, because PPS cannot provide educational services that would allow them to succeed at a neighborhood school. The students are no more or less important than those other categories.

PPS made a decision to transition half the town into an elementary school/middle school model, forgetting to include 120 children in a charter school. Instead of readdressing the plan, they chose to pit the Kairos charter school against ACCESS, like a winner-takes-all cage match. And when politicians and the media supported the narrative that ACCESS was a privileged Caucasian school trying to push a non-Caucasian community out of their PPS building, PPS did nothing to manage this demonization of these children who attend ACCESS.

They did not tell the public that they did not properly plan this elementary/middle school project, and prevent these 350 children from being vilified for something that is not in their control. Innocent children, who should not be judged by their skin color, who are in families of all types, of all economic levels, from all over the city, who are at the will of PPS to be educated to their needs.

PPS is moving 5,000-plus children around the city for school next year, and after threatening to close ACCESS and realizing they made a mistake, they found ACCESS another building, but again created and allowed the narrative that the privileged Caucasian children were now going to displace 125 children who have severe emotional disorders that prevent them from succeeding at a neighborhood school. Another cage match.

Once again, politicians and media supported the negative narrative against the 350 children who attend school at ACCESS, and after Pioneer filed a lawsuit against them, PPS decided to deny ACCESS another building. PPS was not even threatening to close Pioneer. They were moving them, just like they are moving several other schools. Once again, PPS did not step in and point out that many children are being moved, and that the PPS students at ACCESS should not be singled out, any more than any of the other 5,000-plus PPS students being moved elsewhere.

This series of errors is profoundly malevolent toward innocent children.

Revoking our promised building — 10 minutes before spring break — effectively prevented any of these 350 children and families from being able to apply to any alternative school that would serve these children at their rate and level. Neighborhood schools are not an option. All other schools have closed their enrollment for next year. Our families are now completely at their mercy; we now have no place else to go.

If, as promised, PPS does now find a space for ACCESS, they will surely displace some other children from somewhere. Will we have another cage match?

PPS must resolve this very important issue in a competent and professional manner, so we may have our children attend ACCESS this coming year, without any damage to their educational lives.

Michael McGarry, from Southwest Portland, is the father of an ACCESS Academy student and a former board director of Transition Projects; reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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