Rift between owner, advocates endangers Brown v. Board school

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Sumner Elementary School in Topeka. (Photo courtesy Google Maps)

TOPEKA — The historic Sumner Elementary School’s future is uncertain because of a rift between its California owners and Topeka advocates who want to preserve the building.

The school building is on the national historic register for its part in the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation case, which ended legal segregation in the nation’s schools.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the building is owned by the Southside Christian Palace Church in Los Angeles since Bishop W. R. Portee bought it in 2009. He died in 2015.

A liaison for the church, Phil Gonzales, said church members won’t work with Topeka city councilwoman Karen Hiller but didn’t elaborate.

Topeka advocates say they have had little contact with church owners for the last two years.

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