Parents, teachers of Pioneer School students protest PPS decision to restructure program

Parents gather outside Portland Public Schools headquarters Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017 to protest proposed restructuring of Pioneer School. (KATU Photo)

Parents and students from Pioneer School in southeast Portland are protesting plans to restructure the school.

Pioneer Special Schools program offers special education students a curriculum that is based around individual needs.

This week, Portland Public Schools told parents and faculty that students within the program will be integrated into three schools. K-5 students would stay together and move as a group to Applegate School in North Portland. Six through eighth grade would go to schools closer to their homes with support staff going with them. High School students would go to Marshall where Grant students and staff are now. The district said they would have the same staff and support ratio that they do now.

The primary reason for restructuring the program was finding a new home for the ACCESS Academy, a school for highly gifted students.

By restructuring the Pioneer Program, the district says there will be "increased opportunities, more inclusion and decreased stigma” for the kids.

Parents and teachers that don’t agree with that decision gathered at the district offices Tuesday evening.

Lisa Wysong's son goes to Pioneer and said the program helps her son. She's worried kids won't get the same resources her son did.

"The parents at Pioneer School were never consulted about these changes. Nobody ever came to talk to us about these changes," she said.

Parents said the district should have involved them sooner.

The district scheduled a meeting at Pioneer on Dec. 13 to discuss the changes.

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