Civil rights activist Rev. Shane Harris pledged Wednesday to continue the fight to save San Pasqual Academy after its one-year funding reprieve.
Harris, who as a foster child lived at the academy, is spearheading the effort as the academy’s government affairs liason.
“I got involved in this fight because I know what it feels like to feel neglected and rejected in the foster care system due to my own experience of 13 years in the system after losing my parents,” he said at a press conference on the 20th anniversary of the academy’s opening.
In April the county Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an agreement with the state to keep the academy open until June 2022.
The state had previously ordered the county to close the facility by Oct. 1, following changes to federal law that discourage use of communal facilities in favor of home placement.
The reprieve pushes back that deadline, but forbids the academy from accepting any new foster youth in the meantime.
The academy, located near the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, was the nation’s first residential educational facility for foster youth ages 13-19. There are currently 83 youth on the campus and over 15 alumni who have returned amid the pandemic.
Roughly 48% of the youth are African American and nearly 41% are Latino.