Hmong parents told the Minneapolis school honchos Tuesday that they'll pull their children out of Patrick Henry High School if they're forced to trade school buses for Metro Transit.
The district's planned switch to bus passes for almost 5,000 more high school students is particularly upsetting to Hmong parents at Henry.
Several of them showed up at Tuesday's board meeting with students in tow to raise their objection directly to board members. That's after Hmong families earlier this year flooded the board with hundreds of post cards decrying the switch.
"My number one priority is my kids safety," Kia Thao told the board. Riding metro buses with the passes works for some families, but others have no experience with riding public transit and fear for the safety of their children, she said.
Hmong parents have asked that rather than being forced to use the passes this fall, the district give students at Henry the option to ride either the metro or school bus. "Otherwise most of the parents will have to transfer [their children] out of the school," Thao said.
That's not an idle threat, given the district's loss of dozens of North High School students back in the middle of the last decade when the district didn't heed their concerns about getting to school safely. They transferred to Hopkins.
Another parent, Pang Vue Lee, said he wouldn;t hesitate to send his children to a Hmong charter school that would transport them on a school bus.
The district plans to institute the go-to passes for students who live outside the two-mile walk zone at five high schools for the coming school year, with South and Southwest following a year later. Students eligible for subsidized school lunch who live within the zone also will get the passes.
The district said the change gives students more flexibility in their school day, and extra buses are to be added at peak demand periods. Some 900 student sint he district already use the passes.
One parent, Vang Vang, said he's confident that his children will get to school on a school bus, but asked how he'd be certain that would happen with a metro bus.