By Terry Dean
Irene Despenza dropped her boys off at Austin Business and Entrepreneurship Academy like any other Monday morning last week.
By the time her boys came home that afternoon, they were telling their mom their school was closing. But she and other parents would learn two days later that it really wasn’t, as Despenza, an Austin resident, would discover at an emergency meeting March 2 on Austin High School’s campus at 231 N. Pine.
Despenza moved her sons from Maywood last year to attend the ABEA, one of three small schools located in the former Austin High School building. She has four boys enrolled – a freshmen, sophomore, junior and senior.
Chicago Public Schools announced two weeks ago that the high school was closing and its students would be merged into Austin Polytechnical Academy, one of the other schools located on the Austin High campus. According to CPS officials, the move was resisted by parents. Sources close to the situation said the push-back was from parents of both schools.
It was last Monday when Despenza and other parents received a letter from CPS stating that the Business Academy was closing. American Quality Schools, the nonprofit organization that runs the Academy, had decided not to renew its contract with CPS to continue operating the school.
Despenza and other parents tried to find out more information. It was only when she picked up her children from school March 2 that she learned a meeting was scheduled to take place that evening.
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