The decision to close Shell Point Elementary School is now final.
The federal Office for Civil Rights approved the closure in a letter Monday. Several other Beaufort County Board of Education decisions related to student attendance areas, including the shift of fifth-graders to Robert Smalls Middle School next year, were also approved.
Shell Point parents had long opposed the Aug. 12 decision to shutter their school. Cathy Emmert, who has two children at the school, said OCR's ruling represented parents' "last hope" for saving Shell Point.
"It's still like an open wound," she said. "You won't really feel the full effects until the last day of this school year and the first day of school next year."
Never miss a local story.
Emmert said Shell Point parents had contacted OCR a few weeks ago and asked the office to consider their concerns.
In their letter to OCR, parents worried that reassigning students to the Whale Branch cluster and shuffling students among schools within the Battery Creek cluster was negatively impacting the racial balance of Battery Creek cluster schools.
Emmert said they had not heard back from OCR.
Parents met at Shell Point Elementary Jan. 30 to discuss where their children would attend school next year. Most of the students are slated to attend Broad River Elementary.
OCR also approved:
In its letter, OCR said the decisions were consistent with the district's 40-year-old voluntary desegregation plan.
Under that plan, the percentage of white and black students in each school must approximate the districtwide percentage.
If the district does not comply with the plan, annual federal funding totaling about $24 million could be withheld, according to a district news release.
Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at twitter.com/HomeroomBft.
- School board votes to close Shell Point Elementary next year; Aug. 15, 2011
- Parents urge OCR to investigate school changes' effect on race; Oct. 17, 2011
- Board to move some fifth graders to Robert Smalls Middle School next year; Oct. 4, 2011
- Elementary student shift in Bluffton raises parent concerns; Sept. 27, 2011
- Port Royal tax district plan would cost school district less; Feb. 1, 2012
- School board delays vote on Riverview recruitment plan; Jan. 17, 2012