NORWALK, Conn. — A
About 20 people, including some political candidates, gathered Tuesday outside City Hall in a dual protest against NPS’ planned switch to Middle School Choice and the Board of Education’s holding meetings on Zoom.
In a Friday announcement about the latest “choice” development, Norwalk Public Schools had said students might not be able to attend the middle school in their neighborhood, then added to parents’ outrage by saying that NPS’ planned town hall to discuss the transition was only going to be online.
Video by Harold F. Cobin at end of story
“They are going to go back to the old Norwalk way of doing things. We are done with that,” said Drew Todd, one of the event’s organizers.
Avril Johnson and Daisy Sebastian, both mothers, said they want their children to be able to attend their neighborhood middle schools. Sebastian said, “Middle school is really tough to transition to and what made it easier (for her children) is the neighborhood kids that they knew were in that building.”
Board of Education Chairman Colin Hosten released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying that students will be able to attend their neighborhood middle schools.
“A recent NPS communication to 5th grade families included some wording that unfortunately led many families to be understandably concerned about the process of middle school assignment,” he said. “The intent of the proposal is only to give families more autonomy when planning their children’s education, not less. To be clear, every student who wishes to attend their local feeder middle school will continue to be able to do so. The new choice proposal adds transportation options for new middle school families who may wish to explore academic pathways at another school.”
Todd, at the protest, call for Hosten to resign because of a Tweet.
Hosten had Tweeted a link to a petition calling for him to be removed, with the words, “Look ma I’m famous,” then deleted the Tweet. In a follow up Tweet, Hosten said he’d posted in a “glib attempt to laugh through” some of the “hurtful language” in the petition. He regretted the Tweet.
“To try to cover it over with an apology is garbage,” Todd said.
Common Council member Bryan Meek (R-District D) spoke to protestors, offering support for “open meetings.” Meek, a former Board of Education member, said the original idea of “choice” was to give kids options. Their parents were expected to drive them to their chosen school and the “idea that we’re going to have buses crisscrossing the city at rush hour” feels like the “same old mistake we just made with high school start times.”
He said, “Let’s offer all the choices at all the schools and just rotate the teachers.”
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