After most of the school day past on Monday, Dallas students walked out of South Oak Cliff High School in protest. Some were carrying signs that said “Help!!! Call code compliance!!!” “We need a new school.” “Failed city code inspection!! We deserve better now!!” and “Too many leaks to fix, build a new school now!”
Their plan: to call attention to deplorable conditions in the school that they’ve protested.
One of the protest organizers, South Oak Cliff high school senior David Johnson, says the situation was uncomfortable for both students and teachers at the school.
“In our school last year they started renovation… and they told us that it would be done by the time we came back to school the next year,” he says. “When we came back to school it still looked the same.”
The list of bad conditions is long. Johnson says there are wires hanging from the ceilings. Some mornings a sewage smell wafted through the building. The building is either too hot or too cold – one day the students held class in the hallways because of the temperature, Johnson says. During October’s heavy rains, part of the roof caved in. There was a gas leak two weeks ago, and the students weren’t evacuated but instead told to continue their school day.
“That’s a distraction within a learning environment,” Johnson says. “They don’t treat us with respect.”
Johnson says he helped plan the walkout to draw attention to the conditions and the school board, which he says appears to be “nonchalant” about the whole issue.
“It brought uncomfortable attention to people who didn’t want a certain amount of attention,” Johnson says. “Bringing someone out of their comfort zone will make them do something.”
The organizers met Monday evening with Michael Hinojosa, the district’s Superintendent.
“He informed us about how they’re working on the school,” Johnson says. “But I feel like we’re going to have take another plan of action…. We feel like we deserve a new school. Our school has a lot of history and we should have the best education as possible.”