On Tuesday, the state Council on Elementary and Secondary Education voted to begin the process of a state takeover of the Providence Schools. The move follows a highly critical report on the Providence Schools, which has drawn outrage from parents, students and teachers across the district.
A takeover could give the state much more control over the financial picture, as well as the overall management of the district.
“It’s not low student funding. So what’s going on?” said state Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green, who made her case for state intervention during the meeting. “How do we actually take hold of those resources and get them into the hands of the schools that can really do something for the kids.”
At this point, very few specifics have been hashed out publicly, but Infante-Green said she could envision a point at which the city council, mayor’s office, and school board have far less input in the running the department.
“What that would look like, I don’t know,” said Infante-Green. “I don’t know if there would be advisory roles. But I think that there are too many hands in the pot right now. We need to streamline it. We need to remove the barriers so that schools can function the way they are actually intended to.
During a presentation to the Council, Infante-Green outlined much of what had been laid out in the Johns Hopkins report, and the findings of the neighborhood community forums that followed.
She mentioned several specific changes that schools should be expecting, including the creation of something called safety zones in conjunction with law enforcement, and school-specific cell-phone polices.
During the more than two-hour meeting in Rhode Island, stakeholders got up to speak, largely in favor of drastic action, though not everyone mentioned state-control specifically.
“We hope the board, elected leaders, parents, students, and educators with their union can work together to follow through on making these schools safe, supportive, respectful and welcoming environments for everyone who walks through the doors,” said Maribeth Calabro, head of the Providence Teachers’ Union in a statement.
Under Rhode Island law there will be a ninety day waiting and review period before any state intervention can occur, meaning any large scale action will likely take place after the start of the new school year.
Infante-Green is expected to offer slightly more concrete plans for what the state’s role will be in the coming weeks.
A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to the council as a commission, the error has been corrected.