FARMINGTON (WWJ) – The Farmington School Board is moving ahead with plans to sell a shuttered elementary school to the Islamic Cultural Association of Franklin.
After a meeting Tuesday night that lasted some 5 hours, board members voted 7-0 to move forward on a $1.1 million purchase agreement for Eagle Elementary School — which sits on prime property on 14 Mile Road.
But neighbors like Sue Burstein are accusing board members of keeping information about the sale from the community.
“For some reason, and I don’t know what it is and I can’t… I’m not going to guess what it is, but they have chosen to do this one almost solely behind closed doors,” Burnstein said. ”My concern is with the lack of transparency from the district. The district has not been forthcoming with all the information concerning the proposed sale.”
Stephen Rifeman also voiced his concerns at the meeting, calling the decision a ”back room deal” between board members.
“It’s something that just comes out of the blue. The property was not marketed in any way. There was no element of testing the waters, and all of a sudden there’s a transaction. And I imagine a particular usage that we don’t even know what it’s going to be,” Rifeman said.
Dawoud Waleed of the Council of American-Islamic Relations said he believes the resistance to the sale is more about race, with residents having issues about putting a Muslim group in a predominately Jewish community.
“It’s not about whether the school is zoned properly or not. It’s zoned properly because it’s already zoned to be a school,” Waleed said. “These are side-show arguments behind this group. Unfortunately, most of these people here are Jewish-Americans coming out, showing their hostility towards Muslims. That’s the reality.”
Eagle Elementary has been closed for a year.