Austin ISD answers questions from T.A. Brown Elementary parents

Austin ISD Brown Elementary School
Austin ISD Brown Elementary School (KXAN Photo/Dani Guerrero)

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Austin ISD says they’ll be ready on Wednesday for students who learned their school, T.A. Brown Elementary, will not reopen after structural problems caused it to be unsafe.

Saturday morning, district and school leaders sat down with parents to answer some of their questions. Students in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten will go to Reilly Elementary just over two miles away and the other students, grades first through fifth, will go to the district’s Allan facility.

School leaders tell us they will be adding new bus stops to get students from where they live to their new campus, and they’re confident the transition will be smooth. However, parents say they still have some concerns. “I think that is going to be a major challenge and I think it’s going to be a major challenge for the coming up weeks in transferring over to the new schools,” said T.A. Brown parent Christopher Garcia.

When Garcia got the phone call Thursday night that his daughter’s school would be shut down, he immediately had questions. “How was it allowed to happen or get this far along, as far as failure? Where is the accountability?”

Like many parents, Garcia says he’s emotionally attached to the school.

“Our children’s home is T.A. Brown and we want them to go back to T.A. Brown and we want them to graduate T.A. Brown before they go to middle school,” said Garcia. “We want to see that school back up and running as soon as possible, but we also want to see a lot of accountability.”

But the district says that’s not going to happen. The damage beneath the school is so bad, the doors will never be open to students again. “It’s something that we have to do, it’s not a situation we want to be in, but we find ourselves in this and we have to make decisions in the best interests of our students,” said AISD Superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz.

Students will keep their same teachers and eat the same school lunches offered to every other child. For those switching schools, they say they’re excited and can meet the challenge as long as they stick together.

“I feel kind of nervous. I’m going to be making new friends, but at the same time, I’m not as worried about that because my best friend Mia is going to go with me to that school,” said fourth grader Chelsey Guzman.

AISD says the only thing they’re still working out is after school programs. They say they will keep parents updated on those changes. Brown Elementary students will have Monday and Tuesday off and start attending their new campuses Wednesday. The district tells parents to treat it like the first day of school with a lot of excitement. They are also encouraging parents to walk their child all the way inside to their new classroom.

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