Oxford students, parents protest idea of separate school for low income students

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Protesters gather outside Oxford Middle School Thursday night.

The Charger

Protesters gather outside Oxford Middle School Thursday night.

About 100 students and parents protested a proposal to create a new school for low-income students in Oxford.

The rally came Thursday after Oxford High School’s newspaper The Charger published an article in which Superintendent Brian Harvey said he had invited an education group from Virginia to discuss the possibility of creating a separate school for low-income students who qualify for free and reduced lunch. The goal of the new school, he told the paper, would be to close the achievement gap in the district.

Harvey told Mississippi Today that parents could choose whether or not to send their children to the school.

“It would be totally voluntary,” he said Thursday evening.

In June, representatives from a group affiliated with An Achievable Dream Middle and High School in Newport, Va., made a presentation to the Oxford school board detailing how it created a separate school for low-income students and increased its academic achievement level as a result.

Harvey said district officials will be visiting the school in late November, but that no decisions have been made.

“A decision hasn’t been made to do that nor has it been made not do that,” Harvey said.

He said school officials have already visited Antioch High School in Nashville to look at what it has done to increase its graduation rate to 77 percent.

Oxford High School student Jaquan Webb attended the protest at the middle school Thursday night because he believes the creation of a separate school would disproportionately impact blacks and low-achieving students.

Oxford Superintendent Brian Harvey speaks to a group of people outside Oxford Middle School.

The Charger

Oxford Superintendent Brian Harvey speaks to a group of people outside Oxford Middle School.

“They’re just banning some people (out of the school) to get the (test) score higher,” Webb said of the intentions to create separate schools.


He said the decision to create a new school “would affect everybody” and end up creating racially segregated schools.

Protesters had mostly dispersed by around 7 p.m., according to the Charger’s Twitter, but Oxford High School students planned a meeting before school Friday morning.