Monarch Academy's charter merits renewal

I read The Sun article, “Maryland releases first star ratings for every public school” (Dec. 5), and I was more confused than ever as to why Baltimore City Public Schools recommended that Monarch Academy Baltimore’s charter not be renewed. Monarch Academy received two stars, which does mean there are areas for improvement but many other schools that were not recommended for closure received one star. Most importantly, schools CEO Sonja Santelises herself made the case for Monarch Academy to remain open when, according to the article, “she wasn’t surprised by the results, noting that the ratings do not factor in that many students come from families who live in poverty.”

Monarch Academy is a school with 1,000 students, many of whom come from some of the most disadvantaged areas of Baltimore. Ms. Santelises went on to refer to some of the one-star schools as ones that have new buildings and new leaders and critical numbers of new teachers who are working together to make change. The ranking system, she said, doesn’t say everything about the progress happening in these schools. Monarch Academy is not only housed in a safe, beautiful, state-of-the-art, completely renovated building but the new leadership over the past year has been terrific and we are already seeing so much progress academically, emotionally and socially with our children.

As a parent for several years, I want you to know I love this school and my child loves this school and I ask you to give the leadership team of Principal Kiara Hargrove and Chief Academic Officer Nakia Nicholson and the teachers a chance to show you how good they really are. If the Board of School Commissioners votes to renew Monarch’s charter for three years and gives them the time to demonstrate what a gem this school really is, not only will 1,000 children not have their lives disrupted, but the entire Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello community will reap the benefits.

Joseph Harrell, Baltimore

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