…Questions raised about school’s possible selection for English learners program.
Prince George’s County school board chairman Segun Eubanks listens to parents and staff speak at Sasscer in the past photo. He has demonstrated poor leadership skills and cover ups involving union corruption facilitated by misconduct and mismanagement of public funds.
Some Largo High School parents say they are disappointed they were not asked for their input before the school was considered as a site for a non-native English speakers program.
The CASA-Internationals Community High Schools program would offer a small school environment for English language learners, said Prince George’s County Public Schools’ spokesman Max Pugh.
Largo has been discussed as one of two sites for the program, but the site selection has not been finalized, Pugh said. The second site will be in Langley Park but a specific location has not been determined, Pugh said. Each school will start with 100 students during the 2015-2016 academic year and expand with a new class annually.
Valerie White, president of the Largo High School PTSA, said the PTSA is not completely opposed to the program, but members want the program to benefit all students, not just English language learners, by encouraging them to become bilingual.
“They said the school would be involved. They said the community would be involved. No one was at the table in the beginning,” White said.
The county school board needed to pass an emergency item to approve the memorandum of understanding with Casa of Maryland, which advocates for Latinos and immigrants in Maryland, and New York-based Internationals Network for Public Schools, a nonprofit that operates schools for international students and submitted the grant application for the program.
The measure was passed March 13 as an emergency item so the application could be submitted on time, Pugh said. The school system was awarded the $3 million grant from the Carnegie Corporation in July.
“The part I’m stuck on is the community wasn’t given a voice, and no one decided to ask Largo what they thought of it before they made the decision,” said parent Charmian Makell, 41, of District Heights. “I think someone should take this to task on why it was an emergency decision.”
Pugh said Largo is being considered because a section of the school large enough to house the program is currently being renovated. If Largo is chosen, White said the internationals high school may utilize 10 classrooms, which could expand class sizes from 38 to 45 students.
Some students questioned how the school would operate if it housed two different educational programs.
“I don’t think it will work,” said sophomore Tanijia Hardy-Leach, 15, of Clinton. “How would they do lunch if they were separate from us?”
Junior Keilo Savoy, 16, of Temple Hills said the school is too small to accommodate the program.
“If they follow through with this, it’s not going to last long,” Keilo said. “Ten classrooms for people who don’t know English, that’s too many.”
Parents and students felt that English language learners should study alongside native English speakers, rather than attend separate schools in the same building.
“I don’t think separating is the idea,” said Natalie Washington, 45, of Largo, who has a senior at the school. “If they’re going to be there, bring them all together. Don’t separate them because they are from another country or speak another language.”
Pugh said there is no deadline for the schools to be selected, but recruitment for prospective students will conclude in the spring. There will be a presentation on the internationals high schools program at the Nov. 13 school board meeting, Pugh said.
Correction: Prince George’s County Public Schools’ spokesman Max Pugh had initially incorrectly stated the internationals high schools program was for recently arrived immigrants. The program is open to English language learners.