Santa Rosa school officials have settled a lawsuit challenging the closure of Doyle Park Elementary School by agreeing to keep the school open for one year.
The school, which has a high Latino enrollment, was to be closed at the end of the current school year in part to make way for a newly created French American Charter School. But now, both schools are expected to share the campus in the fall.
Doyle Park supporters had claimed in court that that the closure and opening of a new school constituted an improper conversion of a public school to a charter school under state rules. The lawsuit also claimed that the “conversion” would hurt Latino students.
The settlement was signed Monday by school board president Larry Haenel and announced Monday evening.
“The settlement is a win-win,” Haenel said. “Those who filed the lawsuit get to keep Doyle Park open for one year.”
He said the settlement avoids a protracted legal battle that “would have siphoned off even more of our district's precious funds needed for our children's education.”
School officials said they would continue to assess Doyle Park's future beyond next year.
At a press conference held in front of the Doyle Park campus Tuesday, Doyle Park supporters, including a handful of teachers and students, cheered the settlement.
”I'm really happy and excited,” said Jessica Nares, a Doyle Park 5th grader. “I get to finish the 6th grade and go to camp next year.”
Both Doyle Park and the new French charter school, which was approved by the school board last December, will share nearly all the facilities at the campus except for the kindergarten playground, which will be reserved for the charter school.
Under the agreement, the total number of Doyle Park students cannot exceed 180. Also, a class will be deemed “under-enrolled” if it attracts fewer than 18 students in each of grades 1, 2, and 3, or fewer than 25 students for grades 4, 5, and 6.