Last week a group of high school students and Providence parents on behalf of their children filed a motion with the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) demanding that a clear plan for the district be shared with the public before it is implemented. Today, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza filed a motion with the court not objecting to the motion.

“Community voice and involvement may ultimately be the most critical tool in any successful, transformational work that is part of the turnaround efforts for Providence Public Schools,” writes the Providence City Solicitor. “It is incredible that so many passionate community members, teachers, parents and students, are eager to be part of the solution. Hundreds of these stakeholders made it clear through their attendance at RIDE’s public forums that they are ready to support substantive and lasting changes to improve outcomes for our students. I commend Education Commissioner [Angélica] Infante-Green for prioritizing community involvement in this process and look forward to collaborating with all stakeholders to move Providence Public Schools forward and create systemic change that we know we need in our classrooms.”

The motion is asking the Commissioner of Education to ensure that there is a formal role for parents and students to preview and weigh in on the plan for improving the city’s schools, the leaders who will implement it, and the goals, progress and criteria for success for the plan. 

Community members are advancing two main arguments in their legal motion: 

  1. Students in the Providence public schools and their parents have a clear, strong, personal stake – perhaps the most important stake — in the success of the district, and therefore have a legal right to participate in decisions about the takeover; and
  2. Parents and students of the Providence public schools ask that RIDE put formal, enforceable mechanisms for accountability, transparency and community inclusion in their plan for the takeover. 

The “show cause” hearing is scheduled for September 13th at 10am at the Rhode Island Department of Education, 255 Westminster Street in Providence.

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