For Savoy Key, being a FIA Family Leader comes naturally. She has always advocated for her son — and fought, raised her voice, done whatever it takes — to ensure he receives the best education and the best care. From the beginning.
“He was born premature and I was a teen mom,” Savoy says. “So my voice always needs to be heard. Because people not only underestimated him, they underestimated me as a parent.”
She learned early on to question doctors so her son received the best care. She learned how to use those same skills when speaking with his teachers. The same skills that are now useful in her advocacy work with FIA, like meeting with elected officials and pushing on the system to provide quality school options for all families.
“It comes natural because I’ve been doing it since I was a child, raising a child,” Savoy says.
Savoy’s son is now an honors student at the Bay Area Technology School, and Savoy is also pursuing her own educational dreams by applying to medical schools, on her way to becoming a doctor. The future is extremely bright. It has taken a lot of hard work and dedication to get to this point. When it comes to finding the right school for her child, there have been some bumps in the road along the way.
Savoy moved from Sacramento to Oakland a decade ago, returning to her family’s hometown, a place she knows well. She worried she wouldn’t be able to find a good, and safe, school for her son.
“I was very scared to have my son go to school here,” she says, “because, of course, it’s Oakland.”
So she did what so many parents living in the flatlands of East Oakland do: she looked to the hills for a quality district school for her child.
“I was just very determined: my son is going to be in the hills in a wonderful school,” she says.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. While her son got in to a popular district elementary school, the family had a terrible experience and she now says sending him there was, “one of the worst decisions I ever made.”
Her son had an IEP but wasn’t receiving any services at this school. There was a traumatizing incident where police showed up at her house late at night, looking for a gun, after a school staff member misheard a conversation her son was having about a science fiction movie.
“It was all types of discrimination,” Savoy says.
Driving to her office at her day job, Savoy would drive down Seminary near Aspire Triumph Technology Academy. She thought it couldn’t be a good school because it wasn’t in an affluent area. She didn’t know anything about charter schools, she didn’t know there options other than to send her child to the failing neighborhood district school, or get him into a hills school anyway she could.
Savoy says because of her experience, she is against changing the district enrollment policy that will hide charter schools from families.
“I didn’t know about charter schools when I was moving to Oakland, so I went through the regular enrollment process with OUSD,” she said. “There are families like mine who don’t even know they can enroll their child in a charter school.”
Savoy says that enrolling her son at Aspire Triumph was “the best decision I ever made, and “I’m not even exaggerating.” He has since moved on to BayTech, where he made the honor roll. “We just had a parent-teacher conference three days ago and it was amazing,” Savoy says.
Savoy is a top student herself, an honors student even when she was pregnant, and now a psychology major with a year left until she earns her undergraduate degree. She’s looking forward to applying to all the top medical schools.
“I have wanted to be a doctor since I was like, 6,” Savoy says. “And I am going to be one, one day.”
The work of FIA is led by families and students! We are building a citywide movement for quality schools through parent and student leadership, and reclaiming the narrative about public education so Black and Brown parent and youth voices are heard. Join us: https://www.fiaoakland.org/get-involved-1