‘We Are Prepared to File Legal Action’: Advocates for Oscar Patterson Elementary Respond

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Oscar Patterson Elementary is facing closure after superintendent Bill Husfelt recommended the school be shut down last week. On Monday, various civil rights organizations, parents, and former students gathered with a response. 

“Patterson is not a priority and unfortunately has not been a priority for many years,” Dr. Rufus Wood, Bay County’s NAACP president, said.

The school is facing closure if it doesn’t get a “C” on state mandated testing this year. Anything less, and superintendent Bill Husfelt said he will have no choice but to close the school. 

However, civil rights organizations, neighbors, parents, called out Husfelt and other district officials for what they say is a case of neglect. 

“We don’t have any black schools in Panama City now, and we want to close the last one? I don’t think it’s right,” Walter P. Henry, a former student, said.

Advocates say student’s grades can improve if the school is given adequate funding. 

They repeatedly noted the more than $10 million spent on Tommy Oliver stadium renovations. 

“But the district cannot place the resources that are needed here for education for our children, and we mean high quality education,” Wood said.

The advocates say their next step depends on the school board’s future decisions. 

“We are prepared to file legal action,” Gregory Dossie, director of the Student Advocacy Center of Bay County, said. 

Superintendent Husfelt responded that afternoon.

Part of his statement reads, “we’ve left no stone un-turned in our quest to support them and we’ve deployed every resource we can think of to Oscar Patterson in order to help them”. 

If the school earns a “C” this school year, it will remain open and operate as it does now.

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