PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland parents say they’re frustrated that a public school’s playground and field are locked up to the community outside of school hours, leaving kids to cross a busy road for the nearest park.
Signs posted to the gates around ACCESS Academy near Corbett Avenue and Johns Landing say the playground and field are open until dusk outside of school hours, but when parents arrived, they found it locked and welded shut.
“When we came here to play and it was chained up, it was shocking to us,” said parent Logan Morrison. “So quite frankly, someone had come and clipped the chain not that long ago, but now it’s been welded shut, as well as the other access points to the field welded shut and that’s taxpayer dollars at work to keep kids and public school students out of the facilities.”
Signs posted all around the academy say they’re open from dawn to dusk, though limited to PPS students when it’s during school hours. Though the school itself is designed for accelerated learning, Morrison’s son attends PPS at a nearby school but lives there in the Johns Landing neighborhood. Morrison says PPS families should have access.
“This is our local school and this is where we go and this is where we play,” Morrison said.
The next closest option for play is crossing a busy Macadam Avenue to get to Willamette Park.
“It’s a four-lane highway and it’s right behind there and when school gets out, it’s traffic to the nines. It’s 40 miles an hour, but people go faster than that,” Morrison said.
Portland Public Schools says this is the first full year at this site for ACCESS Academy and in a statement to KOIN 6, said, “We are aware there are growing pains with these transitions and we recognize the community may not be aware of our standard practices or procedures. Our Principals and Senior Facilities Operations Manager (FOM) have authority to ensure our property and assets are secured outside of permitted use or summer programs. The purpose is to protect the grounds and the asset from damage, vandalism and to reduce camping on our properties. PPS has over 100 buildings in Portland and as property owners, we do our best to care for our building in service of our almost 50K students. That care and service sometimes means securing our properties which is a decision that can be made by the leader of the school, the Principal, and/or the FOM.”
Morrison says while he hasn’t seen some of the issues cited in PPS’ statement, he would like to see kids have access outside of school hours.
“Even if I wasn’t a taxpayer, I think kids should be able to access fields and places to play like fitness and safe places to meet kids of the neighborhood and get exercise,” Morrison said.
PPS went on to say that since school is back in session, school officials will meet to see what the best plan is moving forward “to ensure the grounds are respected and the integrity of the property is maintained for student use.”