School board votes to close Banneker Blake Academy, along with five other schools

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Image courtesy of Benjamin DuBose.

Despite outcry from parents and protests from the Benjamin Banneker Eubie Blake Academy for Arts & Sciences’ co-founders and board, the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners on Tuesday night voted to close the Northeast Baltimore charter school at the end of the current school year.

Outlets report the school board opted to revoke the charter for the three-year-old institution on Winston Avenue in Kenilworth Park. The board’s vote was unanimous, per The Sun. Commissioners cited issues with financial management and operations and compliance with special education requirements.

Co-founder Carl Stokes and others have said the board and City Schools CEO Sonja Santelises, who recommended the 200-student school’s closure in an October report, fabricated those alleged violations.

The school board had granted Banneker Blake a one-year renewal in February, but brought up concerns about lacking cash reserves, special education non-compliance, low enrollment and the fact that the school didn’t have a permanent building (its present one, as with other charters, is rented from the school district).

Stokes, who previously served as a school board commissioner and city councilman, told Baltimore Fishbowl on Monday that the recommendation was “incoherent, because we’ve done all four things we were asked to do.” He and school co-founder Benjamin DuBose pointed to $100,000 in reserves they saved from February through June, growth in test scores for students—one in four of whom have disabilities—and other changes they made to comply with City Schools’ requests.

But it wasn’t enough to sway the board. Angela Alvarez, who’s in charge of the system’s Office of New Initiatives, reportedly said the district had to allocate extra resources to make sure Banneker Blake was compliant, and that a complaint had been filed against the school with the district’s civil rights office.

Stokes said last night that he plans to appeal the closure decision to the state school board.

The board also voted to close three other charters—Monarch Academy, Northwood Appold Community Academy, and Roots and Branches School—along with Dr. Martin Luther King Elementary/Middle in Park Circle and Gilmor Elementary in Sandtown-Winchester.

Commissioners will make a final vote on their recommendations in January.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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1 COMMENT

  1. Several C.E.O.’s have been replaced citing performance. Isn’t it time to change the Board of Commissioners who’ve proven time and again that their reactionary instead of pro-active. Always a Day Late and a Dollar short.

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