Parents angry after Grosse Pointe board votes to close two elementary schools

Poupard in Harper Woods, Trombly in Grosse Pointe Park set to close

GROSSE POINTE, Mich. – Parents within the Grosse Pointe Public School System are angry about the district's decision to close two elementary schools on opposite ends of the area.

The decision comes after months of heated debate, the formation of a blue-ribbon commission and a lengthy study.

After a vote late Monday night, school board members decided two elementary schools -- Poupard in Harper Woods and Trombly in Grosse Pointe Park -- will close.

"I just think it's not good because you have kids walk home whose parents work," parent Angelisa Woodard said. "They have to walk home."

"I am very upset," parent Andrea Andrzejczak said. "I'm disappointed with the school board."

The board voted 5-2 to close the schools.

Closing Poupard Elementary School caught the attention of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, as the majority of students there are black.

"I think the questions raised raise concerns about whether this process was transparent," said Dr. Agustin Arbulu, executive director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.

The superintendent of the Grosse Pointe Public School System, Dr. Gary Niehaus, said there was no racial bias in the decision, as Poupard students go on to attend Grosse Pointe middle and high schools.

"It's our opportunity to actually become more integrated than we have been before," Niehaus said. "We'll continue to provide those types of services for the families in the title programs."

District officials have been dealing with declining enrollment for years, which leads to less funding and more empty classrooms. Parents who voted in favor of a $111 million bond to fix up schools are outraged.

"I voted for the school board," Andrzejczak said. "I voted for the bond. I feel duped. I feel like it was a bait and switch. I'm getting upset."

Officials said both schools are set to close next year.

"I think they're very incompetent and not thinking long term," Andrzejczak said of the board.

"I don't like it," Woodard said. "We vote there. It's our neighborhood."

"We need to figure out how we're going to heal, how we're going to come back together," Niehaus said.

About the Authors: