Angélica Infante-Green’s decision followed four hours of sometimes emotional testimony, mostly from students and parents who argued the commissioner should grant them more formalized power in the takeover process.

Much of the debate centered on one paragraph in the latest takeover order, referred to as Paragraph Four. The paragraph stipulates that the commissioner “shall engage, be accessible, and be responsive to students, parents, families, educators and the public broadly.” It lists public forums as one example of that.

The parents and students who signed on to the motion -- filed by lawyer Jennifer Wood, executive director of the Rhode Island Center For Justice -- argued that Paragraph Four did not go far enough. Instead, they said, parents and students should have “a seat at the table.”

Zach Mazera directs the Providence Student Union, a coalition of students who organize for policy change. Mazera described the goal of the motion by invoking video games.

“If you've got a younger sibling, you know that you could play the game, and then you'd hand the younger sibling a controller that isn't plugged in and you think you've fooled them,” Mazera said. “It's a big concern for me that we could go through the process and give the community the tools but not have them actually plugged in the structure to be making equal moves and decision making.”

Infante-Green said she denied the motion because the parents and students bringing it were only “a small subset” of the school community. Both state law and Rhode Island’s constitution, she said, would not allow her to grant the motion.

Infante-Green said her decision was squarely a legal matter, and that she still wants community input. She promised students and parents “more involvement” than their schools have granted them previously.

“There’s a dire urgency for us to move forward,” Infante-Green said. “The commitment is clear, and it’s in front of everyone.  … We will move forward together.”