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Monarch School was closed because Santelises doesn't believe in charter schools

Kiara Hargrove, principal of Monarch Academy Baltimore, wipes away tears as she talks about the closing of the public charter school. The Baltimore school board voted in January to close Monarch and four other schools.
Kiara Hargrove, principal of Monarch Academy Baltimore, wipes away tears as she talks about the closing of the public charter school. The Baltimore school board voted in January to close Monarch and four other schools. (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

Thank you for your article on the Monarch Academy (“Baltimore charter school Monarch Academy shuts its doors for the summer — and maybe, for good,” June 19). What you may have missed in the article is that the Monarch School is owned by The Children’s Guild, a charitable organization that has been providing special needs children with education and therapy for 65 years. They are a leader in this treatment and education worldwide.

The previous CEO of schools for Baltimore pleaded with the guild to open this charter school in this neighborhood to provide and option for city kids and to possibly revitalize the neighborhood. Typically, in other jurisdictions the term of the charter school agreement is five to 10 years, which warrants the massive investment in the school. The city only provided a three-year term. Most organizations would never have made the multi-million dollar investment based on a so little time, but the guild did so because they had faith in Baltimore.

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That faith has been destroyed not just for Monarch, but also for other charitable organizations that put their faith in the leadership of the school board. With Baltimore schools having achievement standards for city kids reaching a 2-4% percent testing proficiency standard in reading and math scores, do you really think this was about Monarch not reaching achievement standards equal to the other city schools? That bar is as low as it could be.

It’s about money and the new CEO not wanting charter schools. By closing the school the city gets to spread close to $12 million around to the other schools where these kids will enroll next year. Follow the money. Please finish the article and let the readers know that the city school system thinks they know better than the 1,000 parents that choose The Monarch School over the other city alternatives.

They have not only ripped the hearts and dreams from those kids and families but have taken a vital economic development initiative away from that neighborhood. Thanks for your efforts and I hope you continue down this path and reveal what this really is all about.

Stephen W. Shaw, Stevenson

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