Last week, I learned that a dear friend and neighbor is moving out of University Heights. In discussing the many reasons, we stumbled together into a briar patch of passion, frustration and, for her, resignation.
“I can’t be fighting this school battle all the time. Why would I stay in a city that doesn’t want my kids?”
Both of her boys are in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights public schools. Until December, anyway.
Who crapped on the welcome mat?
My friend, like many fellow UH parents I have spoken with over the past several months, are pained that the city administration appears to be doing everything in its power to block, stall and discourage our children from attending high school and middle school in the very city in which they live.
We are volunteering, active, and tax paying citizens of this city. We are stunned—almost laughably so—at the lack of leadership the city administration has shown on this issue. The dismissive attitude toward our needs and our families is alternately infuriating and depressing.
But it’s not just University Heights families who are affected by this attitude. Cleveland Heights has taken notice, too. Every child in the district will be affected by further delay or failure to reach agreement on Wiley. As ripples of the recent tabling of the construction plan travel, everyone is suddenly paying attention and asking, predictably, “what is going on in University Heights?”
Naïve. So very naïve.
I had so hoped that with just a few meetings beginning back in May, this issue would be passed and solved, and I could be proud of my city for taking solid steps to keep this project on task and schedule. A gentle prodding will do it, right? Civic duty fulfilled. Pass the sunscreen. Imagine my utter disappointment when, 5 months later we are no closer to a solution. Relationships are even more strained, the schedule even less forgiving.
So what is going on in University Heights, already? The impasse on safety and security is what made the headline, but so much lies beneath this very solvable problem. What gets the attention isn’t always the story you should be paying attention to.
The posts following over the next few days are one perspective in this very long process…mine. I will try to answer many of the questions that have surfaced as others try to orient and absorb the context. I have made a public records request for relevant meeting minutes and have spoken with primary sources to maintain transparency and accountability. But I’ve been In It, too, and carry scars from every single public meeting I’ve attended.
Disclaimers and promises
Make no mistake, this series belongs decidedly in the Opinion column, as it is, but I will remain accurate and attribute editorializing comments [either mine or others] as best I can.
While my friend packs her boxes and pretties her home for the realtor, I’ll labor here in the hopes that we can encourage University Heights to embrace our diverse and incredible public school families.
Mine and yours. Ours.