Thurgood Marshall and Willowridge high schools need students.
The proposed options by the Fort Bend ISD to fix that problem by rezoning Quail Valley students to Marshall, however, has parents who expected their students to attend Elkins High School crying foul. Marshall parents, weary of the image of their school as failing, say they just want the district’s full support after a history of being neglected and treated as a pawn.
The emotional issue of rezoning is once again back on the table with the district holding information sessions three nights in December with the expectation that participants would fill out surveys. FBISD Superintendent Charles Dupre told the parents their voices will be heard and encouraged them to be specific.
“Give us detailed information. Not, ‘I don’t like this,’ but give us your suggestions. Tell us ‘here are some ideas you may not have thought of’ and we will combine all the data in the survey. This is where the work is done. We had a focus group of 25 citizens. We had staff working and now we need to hear from as many community members in all neighborhoods that could be affected,” Dupre said.
The district will be taking survey information through Jan. 2. The rezoning options are necessary to fix the issue of overcrowding in the newer portions of Fort Bend ISD and underutilization in the older sections of the district.
Some parents attending the Marshall session were dubious. After watching a video presentation that is available online with the same information presented for three nights, Jennifer Carter, a mother of three teens who will graduate from Ridge Point High School, started yelling as she walked out of the auditorium.
“Why isn’t Dulles in the mix? Why aren’t you looking at Dulles?” she yelled
Some parents in the audience said she was only expressing what others were thinking. Carter said she grew up in Quail Valley and now lives in Sienna and she graduated from Dulles. She does not want her family attending Marshall.
“They have underperforming schools and they are driving kids out to balance socio-economic deficits and performance rather than fixing education,” said Carter. “They want to use Quail Valley to boost up Marshall.
“I feel like this could be fixed. Quail Valley is just as close to Dulles. But you’ve got board members living in Sienna and they want to go to Elkins, not Hightower and Hightower has the academies,” Carter said.
Stephanie Brown has been president of the Marshall parent-teacher organization since 2002 and said she helped name the school. She said she remembers when Marshall was at full capacity but the district started rezoning their students to Elkins.
“They shifted our community to open Elkins. They took them from Willowridge High School and rezoned our kids to Hightower. We have a neighborhood behind the Valero, two miles from Marshall that is not rezoned. If they would fix that first your numbers would be better,” she said.
“We’re not under capacity because nobody wanted to come here but because there is too much politics and we are always on the short end,” Brown added.
That information came as a surprise to Jason Mallory, a Quail Valley father whose children are homeschooled. They were expecting to send their kids to Elkins High School. When they learned of the rezoning, they came to see Marshall for themselves.
“It’s a beautiful building and I’m seeing college banners on the walls. But their numbers are at 50 percent, it is a D-rated school. There is a zero chance of my kid coming here,” he said.
Mallory said having the conversation with Brown and others “opened my mind to a lot of issues.”
James Thomas II graduated in 2006 from Marshall High School and is now a teacher and coach at Elkins High School. He said he saw some positive options being suggested by the district.
“I want to see my school thrive in sports and academics. There are some options to benefit the whole district and you won’t be able to please everyone. The Marshall community will benefit a lot and need to come have a voice. Option 1 benefits them most. It balances things out, shows continuous growth for the next four years to increase enrollment and creates a more diverse culture,” he said.
The four options can be found on the district’s website at www.fortbendisd.com/cms/lib/TX01917858/Centricity/Domain/2446/HS_Options.pdf.