In an open letter sent to the San Diego Unified School Board this week, District 4 Council Member Monica Montgomery called the situation at Lincoln High School a "crisis."
Montgomery demanded answers to 12 questions, including the school's latest attendance and graduation numbers, and what school leadership is doing to narrow what she says is an achievement gap for Black students.
"We need answers in regard to those achievement gaps, and then we need to put forward real solutions that we're investing in that we will provide consistency in seeing them through," Montgomery worte.
In the four-page letter, Montgomery referenced the 1954 landmark Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education, which declared that segregation in schools was unconstitutional. Today, she said, she notices "familiar disparities that indicate there is much more work to do regarding equal access to a quality education in the city of San Diego."
"I want the kids in District 4 to have the same education that children in other districts, other communities, other school sub-districts get," Montgomery said. "That's not happening at Lincoln right now, and because of that, it holds us back from having a community that we all deserve."
Montgomery also said she is concerned about a revolving door of leadership at the school.
"We see continual turnover, and, really, that is not a recipe for success, so when that continues to happen, it's concerning as to why, and the district really has not, in my opinion, given us answers that make any sense," Montgomery said.
San Diego Unified School Board vice-president Sharon Whitehurst-Payne said she was disappointed in the way that Montgomery raised her concerns. Montgomery should look at the achievement gap of Black students in the entire school district and the county rather than focusing just on Lincoln High School, Whitehurst-Payne said.
"I feel sorry for the students there, and I’m just very disappointed that now we have legislators singling them out to do this instead of saying, 'How can I roll up my sleeves and help?' " Whitehurst-Payne said.
Whitehurst-Payne said the graduation rates at Lincoln have actually been improving in recent years. In 2020, Lincoln High School's graduation rate was at 84.1%, up from 79.9% in 2019. She also said the school's new principal, Stephanie Brown, has committed to staying in a leadership role at the school for five years.
"There is an achievement gap that we're addressing, and that's why we focus on the ninth grade, that's why we're focusing on what's happening at the elementary schools and middle schools, and that's why we're now saying, 'Let's correct that at the ninth-grade level and then move forward,' " Whitehurst-Payne said.
Montgomery told NBC 7 that she heard back from the school board and is scheduling a meeting to go over her concerns.