City school board OKs one of six charter applications
The Baltimore school board voted to approve just one out of six charter school applications, prompting outrage from charter supporters who crowded a meeting Tuesday night.
The Baltimore International Academy West was the only school to receive board approval to open for the 2019-2020 school year. It will be modeled on the Baltimore International Academy, and it has plans to eventually enroll 1,200 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
The board rejected the other five applications, following the recommendations of schools CEO Sonja Santelises.
Angela Alvarez, executive director of the school system’s Office of New Initiatives, said the charter application process is “rightfully rigorous.”
Public comment before the vote was heated. Supporters of the proposed AmesSandtown Freedom and Democracy Academy packed the room and held signs encouraging the board to approve their bid for an elementary school in West Baltimore. They chanted “Just say yes, we’ll do the rest” before and during the meeting.
The Freedom and Democracy Academy would have been operated by Northwood Appold Community Academy Inc., which runs two charters in the city: NACA I and NACA Freedom and Democracy II.
“We do not understand the way we’re treated,” founder Cecil Gray said.
But Alvarez said the district found problems with the school’s plan for academic growth and the ways the operator anticipated educating students with special needs.
The board also rejected CEC Baltimore Campus, a middle and high school in East Baltimore with a focus on global affairs; the all-boys, boarding-optional Baltimore Latin School, which would have focused on language immersion, the arts and sciences; and the DaVinci Collaborative High School, a year-round school that would have emphasized internships.
The board declined a request from the Green Street Academy to add an elementary school to its middle and high school program.
But it supported Baltimore International Academy West. Like the original, it will be a language immersion school. Students will take nearly all classes in Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian or Spanish.
The board also voted Tuesday to approve a new school police policy. The district says the regulations are aimed at protecting schools without criminalizing students.