YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Students at Chaney High School staged a walkout after fourth period Monday morning in protest of CEO Krish Mohip’s neighborhood schooling plan.
Around 100 students participated in the peaceful protest that was organized on social media, rallying together outside — even though Mohip met with some of them before school.
“We are protesting because we want everyone in Youngstown to notice us as a whole, not as just where one school is better than another. We as students don’t see that,” Shiree Wilson said.
Most of them sat, listened, and cheered as a few Chaney students led the protest.
“Civil disobedience at its best. They did it, they did it well. They were organized, they got their message clearly, they got the news out here, they got people to listen, and then they went back in,” Mohip said. “For me, that’s the brightest spot of this. We are not wasting our instructional minutes.”
Last week, Mohip announced plans to re-configure school buildings to align with where students live. Instead of shifting entire grade levels to one side of town or another, the focus will return to neighborhood schooling.
The new plan would return Chaney to a 9th through 12th grade school. There would be bussing for students that live over a mile away.
Mohip said the change was being made to bring pride back to the schools and reduce time students spend on the bus.
Some parents questioned the change, however, saying predominately low-income Taft students would attend one school while more affluent students would attend the other.
The kids protesting on Monday said they want all Youngstown students to have the same opportunities, no matter where they live or what their race is. They want access to the best STEM and arts programs possible.
Junior Chiray Chew said she wants everyone to be treated equally.
“If you don’t get into a school that you feel isn’t right, then like, ‘Oh okay, I auditioned for Chaney and I didn’t get in. That sucks.’ But it’s the real world, you know what I’m saying?”
Many of them feel like neighborhood schooling will limit their opportunities to grow. Mohip said he will meet with students to ensure that quality programming will still be offered.
Mohip and the school principal convinced many of the students to go back inside to class. A group stayed outside to continue the peaceful protest despite being threatened with suspension.
A school spokesperson said there will be no suspensions, though the students will have to make up missed class time either after school or on Saturday.