PORTLAND -- African-American community leaders appeared in force at Jefferson High Wednesday for a rally to convince the Portland School Board to keep the school open.
At least 100 others also appeared in support of them a day after classes ended district wide.
"In fact, if they follow through with this," said Jefferson grad Tony Hopson, who heads the Self Enhancement Inc., academy, "I guarantee that we will have a number of kids sitting at the front door of Jefferson trying to get into Jefferson, even if they try to change it. We will not go away. No, no, no, we will not allow you to tear out the heart of this community."
Hopson was joined in support by a coalition of activists representing a broad spectrum of the African-American community, including Ron Herndon, Avel Gordly, Roy Jay, Rev. T. Allen Bethel, Lew Frederick, James Posey, Harold Williams, Joyce Harris and Marcus Mundy.
The latest revision to the Portland School district’s high school reorganization plan would close Jefferson High School, introduced and endorsed by the school board, not by Superintendent Carole Smith.
She wanted to close Marshall High and have eight high schools remaining.
The decision to close Jefferson came up at a board meeting last week. No final decision was made, including a timeline should it happen. The Jefferson High building might be turned into a small school with a specialty curriculum.
Board co-chair Trudy Sargent was joined by board members Pam Knowles, Martin Gonzalez and Bobbie Regan for the Jefferson proposal. David Wynde and Ruth Adkins opposed the closure. Board member Dilafruz Williams said she would go along with whatever a majority came up with.
There will be a board work session on Wednesday night with a final vote on the high school plan on June 21st. Public comment will not be accepted at the Wednesday work session.