Portland Public Schools is considering splitting up its program for highly gifted students.
Currently, the students who are part of the Access Academy are housed in a single school in northeast Portland.
“I think what the administration isn’t taking into consideration is that these kids need to not feel like the outsiders and the freaks that they felt in their home schools,” said Kinnari Shah, who has two children in the Access Academy. “Access, one of the most important things it does, is it provides them with a community, it provides them with the opportunity to be kids. I mean I don’t want to put my 4th grader in a class with big high school students. It provides them to be with other kids and still learn at their rate and level.”
Shah said parents got the news earlier this week that Portland Public Schools was planning to disperse the students who meet at Rose City Parks school, because they don’t have enough building space.
Parents said Access Academy, which is a program for gifted students in the district, is a place where their kids can learn at an advances rate and feel safe. They also said many of the students had a hard time fitting in their neighborhood schools.
A spokesperson for Portland Public Schools said this is a proposal right now and they’re hoping for public input. He did say that they do need space since there will be two new middle schools.
“Uncertainty is hard for all of us so we’re trying hard to limit that uncertainty and involve the parents and the community in the decision making process,” said Dave Northfield with Portland Public Schools. “But the emphasis is still maintaining this special program they have here and deliver those services with those supports but in neighborhood schools instead of just this one centralized schools."
He also made it clear to say Access Academy is a program, not a school, even though the students are currently housed together.
PPS said parents can meet at the school next Tuesday to discuss the proposal with the superintendent. Then the following week, the school board will vote on it.
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