DOE investigation of Franklin closure pushes on

By Jim McCabe on October 29 at 1:14pm

The mother of a former student of a closed Jacksonville school says things are moving forward with a federal complaint she filed.

Naomi Trotter, who ran for a seat on the District 117 board of education this year, says investigators from the Department of Education are interviewing parents and school administrators this week in connection to its look into the closure of Franklin Elementary School.

The school board voted to close the building last spring. Trotter filed the complaint shortly after Franklin’s final class in May based on a perceived pattern of schools closing in poor areas of Jacksonville where there is a high concentration of minorities in the north-to-northeast section of the city.

Trotter says the Department of Education conducted interviews yesterday in-person and over the telephone.

“Talking with the investigator in regards to the closing of the school, what happened after the closing of the school, what happened during the transition, how did some of the kids take the closing of the school, how are they now, those kind of questions were asked during the interview,” says Trotter.

“And then today they’re meeting with district officials in regards to, I’m assuming, the same kind of interview-type of questions, maybe a little bit more intensive, pertaining to the closure of Franklin School.”

District 117 sold Franklin in auction over the summer to the Morgan County Housing Authority, which plans to turn it into low-income housing. The Jacksonville Plan Commission voted earlier this month to approve the rezoning of the property at 352 Franklin.

“It’s a matter of a discussion between the board and I and the investigators to kind of come up with a compromise if it’s ruled in my favor, and then we kind of decide what needs to happen,” says Trotter.

“Of course, I would love to have Franklin School re-opened again and have all the teachers back in there and the children in that neighborhood back into that school. I would love for that to happen, but at this point, there’s no guarantee that that can happen. It could be something like, the district agrees to build a new school. I’m not saying that’s what’s going to happen, but those are the kind of options that could possible come out of the outcome,” she continues.

Trotter says she plans on following up by the end of the week. She says the entire process could last two to three years after the complaint was filed.

Above image: Trotter (right) watches at Franklin teachers and students say goodbye.