The decision by the South Eastern Education and Library Board (SEELB) to recommend closing Donaghadee High School will “tear at the heart of the town”, Councillor Alex Easton has said.
Councillor Easton spoke out following the SEELB's decision to close the school in September 2009.
The SEELB confirmed the decision by way of a letter to the school's Board of Governors.
“To take away a school that has a distinguished role of education and learning is to tear at the heart of the town of Donaghadee,” Councillor Easton said.
“I will be setting down questions to the Education Minister Catriona Ruane seeking to have this decision, which can only be described as madness, reversed.
“There is also the issue of integrated status to be consider. Any proposal that retains quality education in Donaghadee for the secondary sector deserves the fullest and most detailed consideration.”
A statement by the Board of Governors said it greeted the decision with “dismay and severe disappointment” for the effect it will have in the provision of post primary education for the town of Donaghadee and its surrounding environs.
“The Board of Governors, staff and parents have strived over the past number of months to ensure the Transformation Proposal on the change to integrated status, currently in the public domain proceeded unhindered,” the board said. “The Board of Governors now believe this situation has been compromised by the timing of this decision from SEELB and are greatly disappointed at this situation.
“The Board of Governors would wish to record their support to staff, pupils and parents at this very difficult time and acknowledge the repercussions this decision will have on making their management role of the school even more difficult in these circumstances.”
In a statement, a SEELB spokesperson said it planned to publish a development proposal with regard to Donaghadee High School on April 29.
“There is a two month objection period from date of publication. Comments should be sent directly to Department of Education,” the SEELB said. “In addition SEELB officers will be meeting with parents on April 22 to update them on issues raised and proposed way forward.”
SEELB representatives first approached the school in 2007 with plans to amalgamate with Movilla High School in Newtownards.
When this fell through Donaghadee applied to the Education Minister to have the school changed to integrated status. Despite this application the SEELB has gone ahead and recommended closure of the school.
The Department of Education said it could not comment on the proposal until it had received an official recommendation by the SEELB.