Statement by Nova Staff and Families on Horace Mann Building

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From our friends at Creativity Not Control:

Over the past year, residents and neighbors in Seattle’s Central District have been organizing alongside organizations like the Umoja P.E.A.C.E Center and the Amistad School to reclaim the historic Horace Mann building for the black community.  Some background information on their struggle can has been provided here.

The following statement has been signed by the majority of staff at Nova, the highschool which previously occupied the Mann building; the signers state that they “do not support the forced relocation of the current programs in the Mann building and are working to explore other possibilities.”

The programs referred to constitute the  Africatown Community Innovation Center (ACIC).  The Seattle Public School District wants the ACIC to vacate the building so that it can be renovated for Nova to move back in.

Please circulate this statement widely.  If you are a Nova student, staff member, family member, or alumni,  you can sign onto the statement by clicking here.

This statement is timely, since the school board will be voting this evening on awarding a construction contract for the Mann renovation. The meeting begins at 4 PM and public testimony begins at 5 PM, at the John Stanford Center.  Supporters of the ACIC will be speaking about why they wish to remain in the building.

Educational Justice and the Horace Mann Building

The Nova Project Alternative High School is a democratically-run, all-city-draw, inquiry-based learning community that emphasizes social justice and the arts. We work to educate ourselves and take action around power and privilege and to make our school accessible and inclusive to all students and families. We also strive to maintain and develop a school where LGBTQ students, families, and staff, including LGBTQ people of color, can thrive.

We respect the unique importance of the Central District as the historic heart of Seattle’s African American community, and we recognize and oppose the recent gentrification and subsequent displacement of communities of color out of the CD. We also recognize that, historically, the Seattle Public Schools (SPS) has not adequately served African American and other students and families of color. We believe that both of these facts point to the need for long-overdue action on behalf of SPS to listen to and work with communities of color to meet the needs of all students.

Four years ago, SPS displaced Nova from the Horace Mann building and moved us to the Meany building. We fought to stop our displacement and to create solidarity among all of the programs facing closure. After over 30 years of making the Horace Mann building our school’s home, we were heartbroken by our forced move and have no desire for anyone else to be displaced. We do not support the forced relocation of the current programs in the Mann building and are working to explore other possibilities, including collaboratively co-housing with these programs or an alternative location for Nova.

For all of the above reasons, we, the undersigned staff and families of Nova, support an open community process to determine the future of the Horace Mann and other SPS buildings. We seek an inclusive dialogue that will best serve the interests of Central District communities as well as the students and families of Nova and other SPS schools.

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