cross the country massive school closings and cutbacks have become a tradition. In 2006, the Detroit Public School (DPS) system first began shutter facilities, our children’s learning centers. The details are many. Budgets. Billings. And oh, those large buildings. By 2011, Michigan officials ordered Detroit to close half the city’s schools
. Only a scant year later, 80 unused school properties lay vacant. Today, the number is ever-rising
. “Emergency” management wields a wide-swinging machete and the dicing continues. Cuts are never ending.
No school is exempt, not even one that serves uniquely disadvantaged children. Ask the parents and the students whose lives were and are affected.
The state-of-the-art Oakman Orthopedic School was built to accommodate the needs of our most challenged loved ones. Aliya Moore, President of the Oakman Tiger Parents Association, knows full-well; children with severe disabilities need accessible entrances and a single floor layout. Our little ones require rooms for diaper changes and catheterizations. Nothing could be better to inspire the minds and hearts of our offspring whose bodies are frail than a wheelchair accessible greenhouse and playground. Mother Moore says with a smile and a spirit now in decline, “There is no other school like Oakman in Michigan” or at least there never was.
As soon as the school community found out that their school would be closed the following year, they reached out to members of the Detroit Board of Education, who aligned with the larger Detroit educational community in resistance.
Nevertheless, in the spring of 2013, Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts announced the closing of a fully intact education facility for physically disabled children–the only one of its kind left in the Detroit Public Schools System. The disenfranchisement of hundreds of DPS students followed. After the closing, the neighborhood around the school crumbled. Parents and community members began to search for answers. What they found was shocking.