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Parents, Teachers March to Protest Proposed East Bay School Closures

NEWARK (KPIX) -- With enrollment dropping in the Newark Unified School District, the school board has to look at closing two schools.

Parents, students and teachers took to the streets Thursday evening, hoping their voices are heard.

A majority of the marchers are from Graham Elementary, the school highest on the list of potential closures.

"We thought for sure we wouldn't be there because we just had a 22-point rise in our test scores. No school has ever done that," said Lauretta McCarthy, a Graham Elementary teacher.

"I tell them, it's not final yet. We still have to raise our voices and that's why we're here. I got a little teary-eyed," said German Contreras, parent of a Graham student.

Along with Graham, Musick, Lincoln and Snow elementary schools are on the closure candidate list -- in that order.

"No matter which schools get closed, somebody will be hurting," said Maria Ibarra, a Snow school parent.

Not only is Maria Ibarra a parent, she was also a representative on the closure committee.

"I don't like it but, as time has gone on, I can understand where they are coming from," Ibarra said.

The Newark Unified school board discussed then accepted the closure committee report.

"No one here is in favor of this," said Elisa Martinez, school board president.

Ibarra says the process to come up with the list of four schools was flawed. Some schools were penalized for lacking diversity with a predominantly Hispanic student body. Ibarra insists committee members were not allowed to fully share their concerns. She hopes the board will consider other areas to cut.

"We are in a pandemic, so what's going to happen when our kids come back? Are they going to be piled up in classrooms when they should be social distancing?" Ibarra asked.

We reached out to Superintendent Mark Triplett to talk about the closures but were told he wasn't available.

The final vote on this matter is expected to come next week.

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