School board votes to close two elementaries, reconfigure grades

Imran Siddiqui '20, Editor in Chief

The school board voted to close Trombly and Poupard Elementary Schools and chose the K-4 and 5-8 grade reconfiguration during the board meeting on Monday, June 24. These changes will affect the 2020-2021 school year.

From Blue Ribbon Committee meetings, Town Halls at all the schools and 12 public school board meetings, according to school board member Christopher Profeta at the June 24 meeting, the school closure and reconfiguration decisions have been an extensive process.

“We have to look at this process and see if it was open, if it was transparent. Only we can make the real call since we have been engaged with it since the beginning,” Profeta said at the meeting. “When I look back, in my view, this is a process that has gone back to 2015 when the district wrote its strategic plan.”

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) reported during the board meeting, giving their findings from their own town halls. They encouraged the board to slow down the process.

“The impact of these decisions often misunderstand the unintended consequences,” MDCR Director Dr. Agustin Arbulu said at the board meeting. “It seldom considers implicit bias and the dissonance it creates between intent and impact.”

There were motions to table both votes at the June 24 meeting by school board member Cynthia Pangborn. However, both motions failed by a vote of 6 to 1. 

“How can we go ahead and do something with this much ranker in our community against what we are doing?” Pangborn said. “Take a pass. Take a minute, and let’s discuss it”

Many parents shared their opinions during the public comment portion of the school board meeting. Some were in favor of making the necessary decisions, while others were more skeptical.

“I don’t want to close any schools,” community member Anne Vanker said during the meeting’s public comments. “I am here to ask you to stop– cease and desist– this deception, dysfunction and the fraudulent behavior of this administration, cosigned by you, board members.”

During the public comment portion of the board meeting, Grosse Pointe Education Association President Michael Rennell encouraged the board to make a decision today, so the community can begin to heal and grow.

“Now is the time to act. We all know those triggers have been met,” Rennell said. “We can’t afford to keep all these buildings open and stay competitive to hire the best and the brightest teachers.”