In their own words: Families open up about potential charter school closing

WELLINGTON, Fla. - Sophia Naranjo was struggling with math. 

“The teachers at my old school, they weren’t very nice. They were really hard on you,” the 4th grader said. 

Malachi Sanders had bullies. 

“I didn’t have a lot of friends in that other school. Since I didn’t have any friends, I always came home miserable,” the 3rd grader said. 

They finally found an educational home at Eagle Arts Academy. 

“I actually know multiplication now. I know division,” Sophia said. 

“I made a lot of friends. I met new teachers. They actually know how to teach stuff,” Malachi said. 

And now their families might be forced to start over to find the cultivating learning environment they had lacked for so long. 

The Palm Beach County School District gave Eagle Arts until to June to prove its financially stable.

Teachers haven’t been paid since mid-March. A half million dollars in rent is due. 

I asked Sophia’s mom, Mariam, who I interviewed around a table with Malachi’s mom, Lovelly, “Why’d you guys want to sit down with me?”

Mariam said, “We wanted to sit down because I feel like there’s negative things out there and that’s not our school. I wanted for the other side to be seen. Not enough of the other side is seen. I wanted the community to see that how much our kids love this school, how much as parents we fight for it because we believe in it.”

At a closed door meeting Thursday night between school administration and parents, mom’s Mariam and Lovelly say it was tense at times, some parents walking out. But in the end, unifying. That’s where the mom’s met. Collectively, $6,000 dollars were raised. 

“Last night it showed how important it was for the parents to come together even if it’s just for their kids. It made so much difference that it makes me think what if we were united like this a year ago?,” Lovelly said. 

As parents filed in for the meeting, rival school, Renaissance Charter promoted its program across the street. 

Administrators sparred. 

These mom’s disgusted by Renaissance’s presence. 

“Terrible. Terrible ethics,” Lovelly said.

“Their actions last night showed us that they see your children as a dollar sign,” Mariam said. 

“Exactly,” Lovelly confirmed. 

Mariam pulled Sophia out of Renaissance. It led them to Eagle Arts. And a brutally honest response from this 4th grader. 

“At my old school I pretended to be sick so I didn’t have to go,” Sophia said. 

I asked, “And now what?”

“I don’t pretend to be sick at all. I actually enjoy going to school.”

This 3rd grader hopes he can continue to thrive and make friends. 

“I think that it should stay open. They shouldn’t close it,” Malachi said.
 

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