Rep. Sanchez introduces bill
to keep three Providence schools open


STATE HOUSE – Rep. Enrique Sanchez has introduced legislation that would direct the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) to reverse the decision to close three Providence schools.

“Our neighborhood schools are a huge part of our community and this decision to close them impacts all of us,” Representative Sanchez (D-Dist. 9, Providence) said. “RIDE should not be making major decisions like this without input from parents and teachers. They should keep the schools open at least another year and engage the community in a process to determine the best path forward.”

RIDE has faced increasing backlash since announcing in December that it intended to close three neighborhood schools: Carl G. Lauro Elementary School, Alan Shawn Feinstein Elementary School, and Gilbert Stuart Middle School. Critics say the decision was rushed, not transparent, and not communicated well.

“My son has an IEP. He’s doing really well at his school. What will happen to him next year?” said Katelyn Crudale, who has two children at Alan Shawn Feinstein Elementary. “My daughter has been crying all the time about this. She won’t be with her friends. She won’t be able to walk to school anymore. We don’t even know if my kids can stay together or if they’re going to different schools.”

Crudale, who herself works as a daycare teacher and is studying to be a certified special education teacher, is feeling hopeless and angry. “The whole process has been so rushed. There’s been no communication or support,” she said. “Honestly, I feel like they’re rushing it on purpose so we don’t have time to voice our opinions.”

The bill would instruct RIDE and the Providence School Board to keep the schools open at least through the 2023-2024 school year. Families who have already selected another school for their children to attend would be able to choose to attend the newly selected school or remain at their current school. In addition, the legislation would prohibit RIDE from closing any Providence schools without providing one year’s notice or an opportunity for community input.

In January, Representative Sanchez introduced a resolution (2023-H 5170) urging the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) to reverse its decision and keep the schools open. The resolution was cosponsored by 19 other representatives from around the state.

“All of us, parents, teachers, elected officials, want our kids to have great schools,” Representative Sanchez said. “RIDE needs to understand we’re never going to fix the challenges we face if we don’t work together. They need to reverse their decision and sit down with parents and teachers in an open, honest way to come up with a good plan.”