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NAACP Leaders Say They Were Blocked From Porter Elementary Campus After Raising Concerns

Three representatives from the local chapter of the NAACP say they weren’t allowed to tour Porter Elementary’s campus earlier this week, after they raised concerns about problems at the school. Porter’s principal says she stands by that decision but is willing to give the group a tour in the future.

Keashonna Christopher is a counselor at Porter Elementary School. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Representatives of the local chapter of the NAACP say they were blocked from the Porter Elementary School campus when they tried to follow up on concerns raised in a VOSD story detailing significant problems at the school.

The school’s only counselor, Keashonna Christopher, told VOSD’s Will Huntsberry in April that in addition to a persistently unsafe campus, parents must fight tirelessly to get students the services they’re legally entitled to.

The NAACP initially filed a complaint with the San Diego Unified School District earlier this year after it received letters showing “blatant abuse of parent/student rights” at the Lincoln Park campus. The group asked district officials to improve school safety and its special education department.

Three representatives of the group visited Porter on Monday to meet with Christopher to discuss issues raised in VOSD’s reporting, but said the meeting was “all too short.”

In a post online, the San Diego NAACP said its delegation was walking across the Porter site with Christopher when the school’s principal and area superintendent denied them access to the campus, confining them to the counselor’s office.

The group’s president, Clovis Honorè, sent the district’s school board a letter protesting the treatment the next day. “We ask to be welcomed, not obstructed or resisted, on the campuses of the San Diego Unified School District, which are public taxpayer institutions,” he wrote.

In a response, Porter principal Graciela Chavez said in an email to Voice of San Diego that representatives from the NAACP attended the school’s site council meeting this week, where school administrators responded to their questions. She also defended the decision to bar the group from touring the campus.

“As the principal of Porter, I expect all of our staff to be working every day to serve our students, rather than bringing guests on campus and taking time away from work to show them around,” said Chavez.

She said she would be happy to arrange a future tour for the NAACP.

The group’s secretary, Steve Dorner, said their immediate goal is to help establish a parent-teacher association at the school. That was one reason for the Monday meeting, he said.

“We strongly believe that getting the parents involved will improve the situation at Porter,” said Dorner. “Then we believe Porter needs an extra counselor.”

Porter was one of nine traditional public schools in San Diego Unified to make the state’s list of most under-performing schools this year.

At an April 23 board meeting, school board trustee Sharon Whitehurst-Payne acknowledged concerns about the state of Porter.

“There is important work happening at Porter to improve the social and emotional wellbeing of all of our students,” she said.

Representatives of the San Diego NAACP plan to speak to the school board during public comment at its meeting Tuesday.

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