The McClymonds High School community – including parents and students – took over the school board meeting Wednesday evening demanding the board hear their pleas to save an afterschool tutoring and mentoring program.
Parents and students had just learned that Student Program for Academic & Athletic Transitioning (SPAAT) would lose its funding at the end of the school year.
Chanting “We want SPAAT! We want SPAAT,” Mack supporters shut down the meeting after waiting two hours for a chance to speak and being told by Board President James Harris that they would only have one minute each to address the board.
Harris apologized and allowed the students – a number of them members of Mack’s championship winning football team – to speak for the large group that came to the meeting.
“You taking away SPAAT is like breaking into my house,” said Thurmal Felise, a 9th grader, who said his grade point went up this year from 0.8 to 3.8.
SPAAT is a non-profit organization that “empowers socially and economically disadvantaged high school student-athletes by providing them with academic, community and athletic support services to increase the number of student-athletes prepared for college, careers and life after sports,” according to the program’s webpage.
Day’Marr Johnson, an 11th grader, asked the board not to take away the sports afterschool program.
“Our school is so small because you try to cut it down so much. You are trying to take our teachers away from us. I am a McClymonds Warrior,” he said.
“This school means more to us than anything. We brought you something you never had before – a state (football) championship,” said Jamiana Akinjo, 11th grader. “(But) you are cutting so many things, it seems like Mack doesn’t mean a thing to you,” she said. “I’ve seen so many teachers leave, (and) we’ve had three or four principals since I’ve been there.”
“You spend too much money on things that are irrelevant and not enough on the things that are important.”
On Thursday, Mack students walked out of school and marched to OUSD district headquarters at 1000 Broadway to protest the shutting down of the SPAAT program and other issues including the loss of teachers and the disruption of the school leadership.