Administrative law judge to hear appeal starting May 8
Monarch Academy Baltimore charter school, which the Baltimore Board of School Commissioners voted to close after this school year, submitted an appeal to the Maryland State Board of Education. The appeal will be heard by an administrative law judge in May, and the decision will be the first appellate interpretation of Baltimore City’s charter renewal process and related laws and regulations.
“We’re seeking a five-year renewal of Monarch Academy Baltimore’s charter to keep the school open for our 1,000 students and their families so that we may continue educating and caring for the whole child, while always striving to improve,” said Andrew L. Ross, president and CEO of The Children’s Guild, which operates Monarch Academy Baltimore.
Monarch Academy Baltimore’s appeal argues the Baltimore Board of School Commissioners relied on a flawed renewal report by Baltimore City Public Schools that cites controversial test scores from only one year. The board additionally showed unfair prejudice against Monarch Academy Baltimore, according to the appeal, by failing to follow its own policies and regulations for the charter renewal process (appeal brief PDF).
“The Board of School Commissioners’ decision to close Monarch Academy Baltimore is not supported by the record and is based on an inaccurate, unfair assessment that is ultimately harmful to our students and families,” said Kimberly H. Neal, general counsel for the school. “We have genuine concerns about the city’s charter renewal process and look forward to presenting our appeal to the administrative law judge.”
The appeal references support from an independent study by Dr. Alex Schuh, founder and director of School Frontiers, an education research and evaluation firm with experience evaluating testing and school measurement in charter schools. Schuh holds a doctorate in educational psychology in the areas of policy research and evaluation. The study concludes Baltimore City Public Schools’ process was not fair, transparent or rigorous, resulting in measurements that were neither reliable nor valid (full study and summary PDF).
“While decision-makers consider the future of Monarch Academy Baltimore, we’re a school now unsure of our future with students and teachers fearing they’ve lost their school home and questioning where they’ll be next year,” said Nakia Nicholson, chief academic officer for Monarch Academy Baltimore. “Baltimore City Public Schools has given us a tremendous challenge, and we’re hoping for a quick resolution.”
Monarch Academy Baltimore’s appeal hearing is scheduled for up to three days beginning on May 8 at 9 a.m. at Maryland’s Office of Administrative Hearings at 11101 Gilroy Road in Hunt Valley.
Monarch Academy Baltimore is a public charter school operated by The Children’s Guild for students in kindergarten through eighth grade in Baltimore. Monarch Academy Baltimore provides students with an enriched, rigorous, hands-on, academic curriculum emphasizing project-based learning and the arts and technology. In addition, Monarch Academy Baltimore follows Transformation Education, an organizational philosophy that infuses a school’s beliefs and values into the look of the school building, instructional approach, teachers’ mindset and behavior and operating systems. (www.monarchacademy.org)