Sacramento Charter High School senior Keishay Swygert expresses her opinions about how students are treated at the school in Oak Park by wearing a prison inmate shirt. (OBSERVER photo by Antonio R. Harvey)

SACRAMENTO — Just when the administrators at Sacramento Charter High School in Oak Park thought that the dust settled behind students walking out of classrooms in three-straight days in protest of school policies, the fourth day of the demonstration was added to the cause.

About 8:50 a.m., on Sept. 11, about 70 students exited the school to continue their protest and demands. The good part about the protests is that many of the parents support the students, who negotiated some rule changes at the end of the previous school year.

When the students returned for the 2018-2019 school year, most of those rules that were to appear in the student handbook, including a lax in required school uniforms, were dismissed by the administrators of St. Hope Public Schools.

“We’re protesting because we came into the school with nothing that we were promised last year,” said senior student Kiarah Young. “We worked hard to get changes, like the uniform policy discipline policies and our overall high school experience. We just realized that the people that made the changes are not on this campus and do not know how much it is affecting us.”

Each time the students walk out of class it cost Sac High tremendously. The school cannot get state funding for each student that is not seated at a desk. Young also said the students were upset when certain instructors that they liked did not return to the campus.

The walkouts have been getting so much attention that one of the administrators quit her position at Sac High. Christina Smith resigned in frustration and cited in a written statement that St. Hope Public School’s “upper leadership does not appreciate education as a collaborative enterprise.”

Smith reportedly had held the position as Sac High’s Site Leader for only two months. Parents have been torn about the campus’s high turnover rate. Keeping educators on the school’s ground has been and issue.

“It is unfortunate to lose Ms. Smith only three weeks into the school year and we recognize the concern this creates for scholars, staff and families,” St. Hope administrators said in a written statement.”

As with the students, the parents, especially the ones who have been dealing with St. Hope Public Schools have their say about the treatment they claim their children are experiencing.

“They are running this place like it’s a plantation,” Kiarah Young’s mother Kyra Young said, in her opinion, of how St. Hope is run. “It’s a prison. It really is.”

The protesting students had a support system from members of the community who helped them organize for the walkouts. Berry Accius of Voices of the Youth and Loreen Pryor, president of the Black Youth Leadership Project was on campus for assistance to the students.

During the four days of protest, the faculty and staff at Sac High have been giving the students plenty of room to make their case, though no changes in policies have been altered as of Sept. 12. Jake Mossawir, St. Hope’s CEO and Chief Director of schools, told The OBSERVER that he “think it’s a great thing that students are able to express their voices.”

“In terms of advocating for themselves, we want to make sure that we hear them and we also want to make sure we support them,” Mossawir said. “We also want to make sure ultimately that they are able to go to class and go on to college. I’m pretty hopeful we’ll resolve these issues.”
By Antonio R. Harvey
OBSERVER Staff Writer