LAUREL, Md. - Prince George’s County students fighting to save their school spoke out at a school board budget hearing Thursday night.
One student shared that she was told not to testify by an unknown caller.
Staff at Community Based Classroom, or CBC, in Lanham, said several students got strange calls asking them if they were going to speak or urging them not to speak.
"Me and a few other classmates received the call from an unknown number shortly after registering for this meeting," said CBC student Jade Mason at the hearing. "The call went well in the first few moments. She seemed to have been calling to confirm my registration."
Mason said she thought the call was a courtesy at first. She sounded on the verge of tears as she went on to explain what was said.
"After I confirmed my identity with the unknown caller, her tone quickly changed as I felt the aggression in her voice," Mason recalled. "She said, ‘Do not speak at this Thursday’s meeting or any future budget meetings.’ I then asked, ‘Why not?’ in hopes of receiving a legitimate reason, and she stated, 'It’s in your best interest not to speak.’ I’m unaware of the intentions of her call, but I will not stop. You may have your minds made up on the future of Community Based Classroom, but I will not be silenced."
Mason tells FOX 5’s Lindsay Watts that she has contacted police.
Another student, Kenaz Thomas, says he also got several calls. He said the caller asked if he was participating in trying to save CBC.
"I got calls, I know other students that got calls also," Thomas said. "My opinion is they’re trying to block students from saving the school."
Prior to the hearing, a PGCPS spokesperson said she had no knowledge of the calls.
Of the more than 30 people who signed up to speak at the hearing, the majority were there to save the school.
In her $2.6 billion budget, CEO Dr. Monica Goldson is proposing consolidating the county’s alternative schools from five down to three. She says the new streamlined structure is meant to promote student achievement and engagement.
Tall Oaks Vocational High School in Bowie would also close.
CBC staff, parents, and students spoke about the tremendous benefits of the school, with some students saying CBC is the only reason they graduated.
Board members will have a chance to amend the budget at a meeting on February 16. It appears likely there will be an amendment to save the schools.