Concerns over possible closure of Gateway Education Center in Greensboro

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Gateway Education Center parents are in limbo after they say their principal and and assistant principal told them their kids' school would be shutting down.

Guilford County Schools officials tell FOX8 that the decision has not been made.

The transcript of phone calls made to parents over the weekend was obtained by FOX8 from the Guilford County school system. In part, it says "students and staff can be better served in a more modern and safer environment. As such, at the end of this school year, students will no longer be served at Gateway Education Center."

"She told me that Gateway is closing. I was blindsided. In no way did I ever expect to hear that information at any point," said Dania Ermentrout, the PTA president and a mom of a Gateway student.

"I received my phone call mid-morning Saturday. The phone call stated that Gateway was closing and that Connor, his teachers and assistants would all be moving together next school year over to Haynes-Inman," said Brenda Dawson, another Gateway mom.

Two moms, the same message, just one day apart.

Both Dawson and Ermentrout say they were told that their kids' school was closing its doors at the end of the school year, but were left without many answers.

"[They said they were] concerned that it's quote unsafe. That's not born out of the facts," Ermentrout said. "The facts are that there was a consulting group that created a report and issued it in January 2019. The report is online. Gateway is recommended for no change."

That's not what necessarily bothers Dawson though.

"If it is so unsafe that they cannot fix it, why is my child allowed to complete the remainder of this school year, every day in the same classroom, in the same way?" she said.

Both Ermentrout and Dawson are concerned for their kids' futures.

Dawson says her 9-year-old son Connor has thrived at Gateway.

"Gateway is our normalcy. Every special needs parent desires normalcy that other parents have. This is our normalcy," she said. "You cannot duplicate it. I don't care if the facility is new. This is consistency. It's an environment they're used to. It's their school."

Others, like Ermentrout, have issues with the lack of information given to them, like how the district plans to deal with the lengthy bus rides.

"These are children who have seizure disorders, who have issues with sever dystonia, who may have vomiting problems," she said. "And they're going to be sitting on the bus for over an hour."

Dawson is also concerned with how Haynes-Inman is going to absorb Gateway students.

"I'm sure it's a great school. But what about the students at Haynes-Inman? They're almost at full capacity now," she said.

Both moms believe they need more answers for the sake of their children.

"My biggest concerns are with the transparency, the lack of accountability for the messages given to parents on Friday, and their lack of inclusion of the families of the Gateway Education Center," Ermentrout said.

"Things are made possible for [our children] here," Dawson said. "Otherwise, they would be at home and not able to experience any of this."

Guilford County Schools officials said they will address the possible closure and concerns on Wednesday, April 17, at 11:30 a.m. at the Board of Education Budget Meeting.

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