About 200 students at Midtown High School in Atlanta staged a peaceful protest Friday morning, Atlanta Public Schools officials said.
The students opposed a plan to rezone 219 Midtown High students to Booker T. Washington High School, which is 5 miles away, in west Atlanta. They said the plan is an attempt to racially segregate students. Midtown High’s student population is 47.5% white, 35% Black, about 9% Hispanic, and 3% Asian/Pacific Islander. Washington is 97% Black.
The district says the protest took place at Piedmont Park at about 10:15 a.m. From there, students walked to Henderson Stadium and then back to the school building, where some students returned to class and others continued protesting in the hallway.
A district spokesman says while APS values students’ voices and commends them for walking out in a peaceful manner, students will receive tardies or unexcused absences for participating in the protest because it impacted the instructional day.
“I celebrate the students’ passion around championing one another and championing the importance of inclusivity,” Atlanta Superintendent Lisa Herring said in a news release. “We look forward to hearing from our students and I welcome more conversations. And most importantly, I want to remind them of the importance of safety and the impact on their learning environment, as they continue to identify how to execute the elevation of their voices.”
APS is considering two different rezoning scenarios to address overcrowding of the Midtown cluster of schools, which includes Midtown High School, David T. Howard Middle School, and the elementary schools that feed into them. One option would involve redesigning and enhancing Midtown High School without rezoning students. The other option would redraw the district lines for the Washington cluster of schools, sending 219 students currently zoned for Midtown to Washington.
District data shows if no action is taken, Midtown High would be at 107% capacity by the 2024-25 school year. Washington would be at 53% capacity. The proposed rezoning would bring Midtown down to 90% capacity and Washington up to 67%.
According to documents on the district’s website, officials will continue to seek community feedback on the proposals in April. The school board is expected to take an initial vote in May and a final vote in June. The approved plan would go into effect in the fall of 2024.
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