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Some Oak Hill high school families frustrated by timing of closure

An aerial view of Oak Hill School's 72-acre campus
Oak Hill School
An aerial view of Oak Hill School's 72-acre campus

In late April, Eugene’s private Oak Hill School announced the upper grades were closing. Some families are upset by how it’s been handled.

Gabriela Perez Baez’s daughter is a junior at Oak Hill. The family has scrambled to find a school for her senior year. Perez Baez told KLCC, ”To realize that they had ample time to warn us about this and they didn’t. And that they would do it days before the AP exams, after all the deadlines have passed, a month and half before the end of the academic year, is just ludicrous.”

It was too late to transfer to a non-neighborhood 4J school. One family is 50th on a waiting list. Board President Leia Pitcher said Oak Hill staff has tried to help as much as possible. “It is tough, I agree. You know, the timing is tough," she said. "But I know they’ve been trying to get them in touch with the right folks at 4J to get on the lists. We can’t jump the lists, because that wouldn’t be equitable or fair either.”

Seventeen students were registered to attend the high school next fall.

Last fall, Chris DeSalvo’s 8th grade daughter and Rob Dickinson’s 11th grade son enrolled in Oak Hill. Both got the impression from tours and orientation the school would be open for the foreseeable future. Pitcher said that’s accurate. “We were trying to recruit up until the very end," she said. "We were always trying to grow our high school … so yeah, we were definitely trying to fill the high school, right up until we weren’t.”

She said the board had talked about the viability of the high school for years as enrollment dropped, but it was never an agenda item until this spring. She said the timing would have been hard whenever it happened, and it was a complex and emotional decision, but it was also a clear choice. Because of their fiduciary duty to the success of the school, the board voted unanimously on April 27th to close the high school.

Karen Richards joined KLCC as a volunteer reporter in 2012, and became a freelance reporter at the station in 2015. In addition to news reporting, she’s contributed to several feature series for the station, earning multiple awards for her reporting.