Local News

Durham Residents Protest School Board Decision

Posted August 18, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— A decision by the school board to relocate a group of students with behavioral problems was met with protest by residents of a Durham community on Monday.

Residents of Northeast Central Durham were upset with the school board's decision to move Carver Hill students to the Holloway Street Advance Center.

The move upsets the residents because the children are Willie M students, meaning they have extreme behavioral problems. Holloway Street is also a center for alternative students.

William Thomas of the Northeast Central Durham Council said the plan will have a negative effect on the community.

"Now we're going to bring something else into the plan which is going to bring down negativity on this community which we don't need anymore," said Jacqueline Wagstaff-Hughes, Northeast Central Durham Council.

The Northeast Central Durham community is trying to rebuild its neighborhood. People are improving their homes. Parents and children are now attending self-improvement programs at the community center. Some are fearful the Willie M students will turn people away.

"I asked them if they could guarantee the safety of our participants which are zero to five in the Smart Start program," said Shirley Payton, director, Helping Parents Help Children. "They cannot do that."

The move from Carver Hill to Holloway Street has already begun. The main reason for the move is because Carver Hill needs more space. As far as problems from students goes, the principal said he doesn't anticipate any.

Superintendent Ann Denlinger said she doesn't expect any problems either.

Denlinger's opinion is not satisfactory with protesters. They're getting petitions signed to try to have the move blocked and they vow to fight the school board until they get it done.

The 34 students with behavioral problems are expected to report to the Holloway Street facility next Monday, the first day of school for Durham public schools.