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SRC to hold hearing on proposed closure of Kensington Urban

Students want to keep it open as a full-service community school.

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

The School Reform Commission is holding a hearing Tuesday evening on the proposal to close Kensington Urban Academy and merge it with Kensington International Business High School. The two schools now share a building.

Parents, students, teachers, and community members plan to urge the SRC to keep the school open.

The five-year-old school is a product of the movement to break what was once Kensington High into small, themed schools that provided students more personalized attention and support. It was established in one-half of the original Kensington High after Kensington Creative & Performing Arts moved into its new building.

As the last of Kensington’s four small schools to be established, Kensington Urban had a rocky start. Community members have said that former Superintendent Arlene Ackerman installed a principal whom the community did not favor. And the community had sought a school with a social justice theme, but Ackerman wanted the school to train teachers for urban schools, changing and narrowing the focus.

The founding principal was abruptly removed in the middle of the last school year in connection with the District’s cheating scandal. An interim principal was installed. Ironically, the school that was meant to prepare urban educators could not hold on to its own teachers and had trouble filling out its faculty.

Students from Youth United for Change, which originally led the movement for the small high schools a decade ago, have told the SRC that the principal this year, Jovan Moore, should be given more of a chance to make the school work. They are also calling for it to become a community school.

The hearing starts at 5:30 p.m. at School District headquarters.

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