Hawthorne Elementary parents and neighbors fight for school to remain open

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Public Education Department named Albuquerque’s Hawthorne Elementary School as one of the three failing APS schools. Now, the school faces being shut down.

“All four of my children have attended Hawthorne. I’ve put a lot of time and effort into this school,” said Anna Vigil.

Vigil’s family has walked the halls of Hawthorne Elementary, near Wyoming and Copper, for more than 20 years. Her daughter is currently in 4th grade.

“It’s a great school and I’m pretty upset at what’s going on right now,” said Vigil.

Two weeks ago, the PED named Hawthorne as one of the three failing schools within APS.

That leaves four possible outcomes for Hawthorne: The school will be redesigned, changed to a magnet school or charter school, or close. None of those options sit well with Vigil.

“I was pretty shocked because there was no warning whatsoever,” she said.

The news also came as a shock to Eileen Jessen, President of the South Los Altos Neighborhood Association.

She says her neighborhood association has been working to get Hawthorne back on track since 2011.

“Our neighborhood association has actually bought bikes for the kids. At the beginning of the year they’re told that if they show up everyday of school they’ll get their name put in a hat, and one little girl and one little boy will get a free bike,” said Jessen.

It’s worked. The association says the school’s attendance increased 14 percent this school year.

A spokesperson with APS says they’re aware of the improvements at Hawthorne, but that doesn’t change the PED’s requirements.

Hawthorne has received a failing grade every year since 2012. APS assures the community will be kept in the loop of the school’s future.

Jessen and Vigil believe the right choice is to keep it open and give it a second chance.

“There were recommendations that the PED gave us and we were doing that, and then they pulled the rug out from under us,” said Jessen.

“They should at least think of the kids, because they are the ones that are busting their butts working hard,” said Vigil.

APS will decide which of the four options to move forward with at Hawthorne sometime in January. That plan will then be submitted to the PED for final approval.

The parents and neighbors who spoke with News 13 believe Hawthorne needs more time to prove itself.

The other Albuquerque schools that received the same news from the PED are Whittier Elementary and Los Padillas Elementary.