Northgate High School in Walnut Creek is the epicenter for a contentious debate over accountability and exclusion.
The school is proposing to separate from one of the largest school district’s in the state, Mt. Diablo Unified, and create its own district.
Mt. Diablo Unified currently oversees 32,000 students. The proposed Northgate District would consist of 4,600 kids.
The move is seen by critics as a form of discrimination between the haves and have nots while proponents say it's a way to gain accountability and local control. Both sides are digging in their heels.
“We see this move as being exclusionary," a Northgate teacher said at a packed meeting Tuesday night. "Our vision for our students is to be global citizens and to understand social justice issues."
Families who live in the upper middle class Northgate High area now have about 6,700 signatures favoring a secession from Mt. Diablo Unified.
"Comparing yourself to past underperformance is not the way the world works," parent Jim Mills said. "I’ve had neighbors and administrators say I’m just a bitter parent, and I need to get over it, and Mt. Diablo is making improvements."
Those improvements aren’t good enough for the Northgate community advocacy group for public schools that's at the center of the proposed new district.
Those against the move, say creating a district with only five schools in the affluent areas in and around Walnut Creek promotes segregation, pushing black and brown students out.
"It is so representative of segregation, exclusion vestiges of a time long gone," history teacher Meg Honey said.
Superintendent Nellie Meyer said Northgate has programs provided across the district, and in the event of a separation, many students won't have access to programs their families rely on.
Another public meeting is scheduled for Wednesday in Walnut Creek. Beyond that, the county school board will have to make its recommendation to the state.