Harding H.S. Parent Group Stands Firm Against "Forced Busing"

By John W. Davis

December 21, 2010 Updated Dec 21, 2010 at 11:52 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - With Paul Harding High School scheduled to close at the end of the school year, a Harding parent group presented fellow parents with other options Tuesday night.

The meeting was held at the Weisser Park Youth Center.

Parents For Quality Education in 2010 members hosted the meeting in partnership with incoming NAACP President Paulette Nellems.

Group leaders asked the crowd of nearly 40 parents and community members to stand with them against the current transition plans for Harding High School.

Parents agreed in unison that they do not want their students forcibly bused across the district.

They want their students to go to Harding next year.

Current plans call for 9th through 11th grade Harding students and current 8th grade Prince Chapman students to transfer to either Leo H.S., Woodlan H.S., New Haven H.S., or Heritage H.S.

According to district leaders, early bus route calculations show Harding area students could spend up to two hours a day round-trip, on school buses.

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Meanwhile, East Allen County Schools plans to re-open Harding High School in 2012 as the Harding College & Career Academy.

EACS administrators have previously told Indiana's NewsCenter a state takeover is forcing the change.

Officials shared to prevent the state takeover, rules dictated current Harding students will not be allowed to enroll in the new program.

Meanwhile, 7th and 8th graders will attend Harding in 2011.

9th graders will begin in 2012.

The school will not have a graduating class until 2016.

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The deadline to turn in student transfer choices set by EACS is 4 p.m. on January 18, 2011.

The Harding parent group implored other parents to make "no choice" and stand with them.

"If East Allen County Schools does not meet the demands that we have set for a change in curriculum starting in the fall of 2011, We are prepared to pursue a charter," said Harding Parent Condra Ridley.

Ridley said they are demanding a proper education for Harding students by way of school culture and curriculum changes.

She said six years of academic probation is enough.

Most importantly, parents are demanding Harding students remain at Harding next school year.

"What I hear the parents saying clearly, they do not want their students, from the Harding area, bused into all of the areas. I stand with them on that," said East Allen County School Board Vice President Rev. Stephen Terry.

Meanwhile, Terry said he will continue to look for answers from state education officials.

"Is there a way for the state to allow for the students who are there (current Harding students) to grandfather that process?" questioned Terry.

"Whatever, we do stick together... say the same thing, all the time," said Terry in reference to standing up against the current Harding High School transition plan, which is a part of the overall East Allen County Schools redesign plan.

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Another EACS/Harding Transition Plan community meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m on Monday, January 3, 2011 at Turner Chapel on 836 East Jefferson Boulevard in Fort Wayne.

That meeting is being hosted by the Uniting Pastors group.

Meanwhile, "Parents For Quality Education" will meet again from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m., Sunday, January 9, 2011, at the Allen County Main Library Branch in Room B.




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