‘Taking advantage of the community’: DC council chair says some families getting short end of stick during a school renovation

Some D.C. parents and the council chair are pushing back on a plan to use the green space in their children’s school to set up trailers while another elementary school is getting renovated.

The “swing space” for Drew Elementary School is being set up on one of the fields at J.C. Nalle Elementary, which the school has used for soccer, flag football and other outdoor events. A swing space is a series of trailers meant to hold an entire school while construction takes place.

Nalle parents and teachers said they are concerned children in Ward 7 already have a shortage of safe outdoor spaces and using this field for trailers will hamper their ability to take part in outdoor activities.

Member of the Nalle Elementary community say they were not told about the plan to use their outdoor field as the site for the trailers until the project was about to begin, giving them no time to consider the plan. Other wards, they said, are given early notice when similar projects are going to take place.

D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson said he thinks the community is “getting shafted.”

“I think it’s pretty outrageous what DCPS has done,” Mendelson said during his monthly Meet Up With Mendo online community chat. “Doing it without consulting the community, working with the community, basically taking advantage of the community.”

Meldelson sent a letter last week to the D.C. schools Chancellor Lewis Ferebee asking for answers and to pause the project while this is sorted out.

Mendelson said the loss of the space during the renovation of Drew Elementary could be at least five years.

WTOP has reached out to D.C. Public Schools for comment.

WTOP’s Abigail Constantino contributed to this report. 

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Michelle Murillo

Michelle Murillo has been a part of the WTOP family since 2014. She started her career in Central Florida before working in radio in New York City and Philadelphia.

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