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Board votes to close only bilingual school in north suburban Chicago district

School board votes to close north suburban Chicago bilingual school
School board votes to close north suburban Chicago bilingual school 02:19

EVANSTON, Ill. (CBS) -- School district leaders in the northern suburbs on Monday voted to close a bilingual school, despite protests from parents.

Families left in tears Monday night as the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 board voted to close the Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies, at 3701 Davis St. in Skokie.

Bessie Rhodes is the district's only fully bilingual K-8 school.

The decision came after the school board hearings and months of anticipation for the parents about the fate of the school. About a dozen parents protested beforehand.

They asked the district to consider keeping Bessie Rhodes open, or at least pausing their decision until the district could conduct an equity study on how the closure could impact the students – especially the minority students of the district's most diverse school.

The parents said the school closure would also discriminate against students of color.

But despite the pleas, District 65 held the final hearing on the matter Monday night and voted to close the school – citing financials and student enrollment.

Currently, the district operates 18 schools – with a new one planned to open in Evanston's 5th Ward. The schools are all within 10 square miles of each other.

Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Supt. Dr. Angel Turner said it is not efficient to keep all the schools open.

"It is difficult to make these decisions that do have a negative impact, but I think that's part of change – that's part of difficult, but necessary change - for all of us," said Evanston/Skokie School District 65 board member Soo La Kim.

But parents said they feel like the Bessie Rhodes School is being singled out.

"It's unsurprising, but also absolutely infuriating," said parent Erik Parsons.

"I'm not surprised, but what I'm heartbroken for is the children who walked out in tears," said parent Aide Acosta. "That is unacceptable. Those are not leaders. They are not leaders."

The earliest Bessie Rhodes School would close would be after the 2025-2026 school year. The school board is focusing on transitioning the students.

Meanwhile, the parents who protested Monday night said they will not give up their fight to keep their school open.

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