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'21st century racism': Tempers fly at Austin ISD school closures meeting

The Austin ISD board voted to officially close four schools starting next school year.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin Independent School District board's vote to close four schools left many people upset.

Six board members voted in favor of the school closures and three voted against them late Monday night. The four schools that will close starting next school year include Sims Elementary, Metz Elementary, Pease Elementary and Brooke Elementary.

During the meeting, things got heated as many parents and employees spoke out against the school closures for hours, including an AISD equity officer.


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"The map that you have of school closures is a map of what 21st-century racism looks like," Dr. Stephanie Hawley said.

About 80 people spoke at the meeting and all were against the closures. Some were angry and others even began yelling.

"Why do we still have to fight school policies that discriminate against children of color? Why," asked one person who spoke at the meeting.

"Education is not what is delivered; education is what is received," said one man who has worked with East Austin schools for years. "Your mission is to ensure that each student's needs are met, not by averages or groups, but by each individual student. The mission of public education is to prepare and well inform students and that includes diverse education."

Trustee Arati Singh said closing schools makes AISD look unstable and that turning Pease Elementary into a media and archives building is a "waste."

"Closing black and brown schools even with the promise of larger modernized facilities to me is not the way," said Singh. "I personally don't think closing schools based on incomplete financial is being tough or courageous. It hurts our children." 

This is not the first time AISD has tried to close down schools in the district. In 2011 and 2017, the district looked at closing 10 schools, but the plans were scrapped. In 2011, the district cut 1,000 jobs instead.

WATCH: Parents speak against school closures plan


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