Reaction to the scheduled closing of a Detroit school for pregnant women and mothers turned ugly in mid-April as several people were arrested at the school during a protest.

“Police came and they’re like, ‘You’ve got to go. You’ve got to go,’” Tiffany Baldwin, a protester, told Detroit Fox affiliate WJBK. “We just stood there and they just arrested us one by one.”

According to reports, 13 people were arrested for trespass and were booked and released on their own recognizance April 15. The closing of Catherine Ferguson Academy, a school designed for pregnant and parenting teenage girls, is a sore spot with many people in the city because of the high quality of education the young women receive there.

“The girls bring their kids to school because we don’t have anyone else to watch them,” 17-year-old Ashley Matthews told Voice of Detroit. “What else are we going to do? Ninety percent of our students graduate, and most of them go on to two- and four-year colleges. Our principal tells us ‘Smart mothers make smart children.’”

The school provides students with a curriculum not seen at many other schools in the Detroit Public School System (DPS). The course of instruction includes time spent at an urban farm that features horses and beehives for coursework in animal husbandry. According to, the school has also made life skills as much a part of the curriculum as classroom learning.

It’s the only school of its kind in the country, but it has nevertheless landed on an initial list of schools to be shut down this June. As the city continues to struggle with the economic downturn, the task of closing the Catherine Ferguson Academy will be the responsibility of Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Robert Bobb.

There may be a silver lining in the controversy, however. The school was one of 50 public schools in the city targeted for conversion into charter schools as part of an initiative by the city to save money and improve failing schools.

“We are pleased with the broad experience of many of the organizations that applied and their potential to transform academically-challenged schools,” Bobb said of the companies that have sought access to the threatened schools. “In a number of cases, the applicants already run one or more schools that significantly outperform the DPS schools they seek to operate, as measured by the Excellent Schools Detroit report cards.”

It is still unclear whether the format of the school will remain the same, or what will happen to the teachers and students at the school.