The Missouri Board of Education voted today to revoke the charters of all Imagine Schools in St. Louis as of June 30, effectively closing four schools by the end of the current school year. These are some of the lowest performing schools in the State and the worst performing schools in the City of St. Louis.
I had asked the schools' sponsor Missouri Baptist University to close the schools last year. Instead of closing the schools then, MBU chose to relinquish their sponsorship rights to the MO Department of Elementary and Secondary Education yesterday. (Another charter school formerly sponsored by MBU will now be sponsored by the University of Missouri ' Columbia. I thank Mizzou for its willingness to be a sponsor here.)
Today's action by the state Board of Education to close all of the Imagine Schools in St. Louis is the right move for their nearly 3800 students. I commend the state Board of Education for taking this step. And I thank DESE Commissioner Nicastro for having the courage to put the children first. The dissent will be predictable, but unwarranted.
I have a message for Imagine and the board members of each Imagine School: Do the right thing. Help the families of your current students successfully and quickly transfer to another school. You owe that to the children in your care, to the taxpayers who support public education, and to the teachers you employ to close your schools in a professional manner.
Imagine School families will find many more good school choices available now than even a few years ago. Other charter schools, the St. Louis Public Schools and the Today & Tomorrow Foundation are eager to help students make a good choice and enroll for the next school year. The Missouri Charter Schools Association, SLPS, and my office stand ready to assist any St. Louis City family seeking a quality option. DESE has provided a transition team to help parents move their child to another school. Commissioner Nicastro points out, correctly, that there will be a seat for every child. From all of this comes an important lesson: Universities (and school districts) that cannot or will not hold schools accountable must not be allowed to sponsor charter schools.