Underperforming St. Louis Charters to Close, Go on Probation

Two underperforming charter schools in St. Louis have been told that they will be closed at the end of this school year, while four more have been put on probation, writes Elisa Crouch at STL Today.

The six charters have been criticized by their sponsor for poor academic, financial and leadership guidance.

The Missouri Baptist University's Education Division has carried out a weeks-long review of the schools, and James French, chairman of the school's governing board, informed the faculties of the failing schools by letter.

At the end of this current school year, the organization will revoke the charter for both the Imagine Academy of Academic Success and Imagine Academy of Cultural Arts. Between the schools, there were 872 children.

"Our primary concern is for the children attending the Academy," French wrote to Joan Hubbard, board chairman of Imagine Academy of Academic Success.

"While we recognize that the gap between your students and other City public school students existed since the beginning of the Academy, it is disturbing that the gap has continued, and in some instances grown greater."

The other four Imagine schools — Imagine Academy of Careers Elementary, Imagine Academy of Careers Middle, Imagine College Preparatory Academy, and Imagine Academy of Environmental Science and Math — are currently on probation and have until spring to improve in specific areas, such as the creation of attendance plans and providing an 8-hour school day as the charter requires.

If these improvements are not met, these schools will also find themselves facing closure.

"It is the hope that your Board and the administrators of the Academy will understand the gravity of the situation and take all necessary action to avoid revocation of your charter," French wrote to Reynaldo Anderson, board president of Imagine Academy of Careers.

Imagine Schools, the largest charter school operator in the nation, serves about 3,800 St. Louis-area students. It has come under heavy criticism recently for the operating fees and the rent it charges schools for buildings.

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