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This time, it’s Audenried students who walk

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

UPDATE: District comment.

Students from Audenried High School left school Tuesday morning, with more than 40 gathering at to 440 N. Broad St. to protest plans to convert the school to a charter managed by Universal Companies.

http://www.youtube.com/embed/g1rIXw7tPCA Their message: "We like Audenried just the way it is."

The student protesters chanted,"This is our house!" and "Where is the data?"

Opponents of the move to make Audenried a Renaissance School have argued that the school has made great strides since the new Audenried building opened in fall 2008, and are angered by District statements that the move in part was based on data from the old Audenried, which closed in 2005.

"This is really not fair," said Marquis Lewis, an 11th grader at Audenried. "We have only had the new school for two and a half years and we have a strong relationship with our staff. We want our school back from Universal."

Under the Promise Neighborhood Partnership model, all teaching staff at the school would be force-transferred and Universal would be free to hire whoever they choose.

The School District’s plans to convert Audenried to a "Promise Neighborhood Partnership School" met with strong opposition when they were detailed at a community meeting at the school last week.

Ava Reeves, an Audenried 11th grader, said the protest was planned after that meeting. She said students were angered by District officials’ comments that questions would be answered in 30 days.

"Everybody here helped organize this," she said. "We are together, we are united. Our goal is to get answers."

Reeves and Lewis conferred briefly with District Associate Superintendent Penny Nixon, who came outside to talk to the protesters. Deputy Superintendent Leroy Nunery and Nixon later met with representatives from the group.

Principal Terry Pearsall-Hargett and other staff members came to District headquarters and encouraged students to return to school. At 11 am, school officials said the students had returned to their classes.

The District’s communications office issued a statement in response to the protest, saying,"The District is sensitive to the fact that emotions are running high in the face of this change, but we are confident that the end result, which is increasing academic achievement for our students and improving the surrounding neighborhood, will be met with welcome."

This is the second time in days that the District’s Renaissance School plans have sparked a student protest.

UPDATE: 4:28 p.m. District spokesperson Shana Kemp provided the following statement:

We did have an impromptu meeting with a small group at 440 N. Broad this morning to listen to some of their concerns regarding the transition of Charles Y. Audenried Sr. High School from a traditional public school to a charter school. Members of District staff had started the conversation outside, but due to the cold temperatures, brought the group inside to continue the discussion. As has been the plan from the beginning, community meetings will be held in the coming weeks to offer more details about the transition. With regards to the students, The School District of Philadelphia does not approve this type of behavior and will hold students accountable for their misconduct. The District is committed to providing a safe learning environment to all students.

Check back for updates on this unfolding story.

Other outlets reporting on the protest include: The Inquirer/Philly.com, Philadelphia Magazine links to Notebook coverage. We’ll update with links to additional coverage as they become available.

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