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With two communities vying to host a new middle school, San Diego Unified trustees ducked out of a vote last night that would decide the school’s location, leaving the question unanswered.

Millennial Tech Middle School is a long-planned magnet school focused on science and technology, which would draw students from across the city. The planned school is currently looking for a home.

The desirable program is now the subject of a dispute between the Chollas View and Logan Heights neighborhoods, both complaining that their areas lack viable local middle school options — an option the magnet might provide. Magnet programs are endowed with special funding, and focus instruction around a distinct theme.

Parents and teachers from Memorial Academy of Learning and Technology, a struggling charter school in Logan Heights, are pushing for the school to relinquish its charter, making space for the magnet to move on site. To the east in Chollas View, families around a cluster of science-themed public schools say Millennial is a natural fit for the empty Gompers High School site, rounding out a science-focused corner of the school district.

The fight for the magnet has racial overtones, pitting mostly-Latino Logan Heights against the largely black community of Chollas View. That upset Michelle Evans, a parent who has sent three kids to Gompers Charter Middle School in Chollas View.

“I’m upset that our community once again is fighting — against itself,” Evans said, later adding, “I’m so upset, I’m shaking. I can’t believe we’re doing this again.”

District staffers who analyzed the two sites believe that Memorial is a less expensive option. But trustee Shelia Jackson, siding with the Chollas View parents, said the magnet was originally intended for the Gompers High site, and should remain there.

Board members John de Beck and Katherine Nakamura said they wouldn’t vote on the proposal, with de Beck charging that money was too short to start the project anyway. The issue was shelved, leaving parents grumbling as they left.

EMILY ALPERT

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