Jay Chilton | March 27, 2017

State Board of Education approves Le Monde International Charter School

Jay Chilton

By Jay Chilton, CIJ

OKLAHOMA CITY – For the second time this year, the State Board of Education has approved a charter school which was previously denied by a local school board. The appeal from the Le Monde International School, a French immersion public charter school, was granted with a 5-2 vote in favor of sponsoring the school.

Le Monde International School was proposed by parents who were upset by the shuttering of a French immersion program offered by the Norman Public Schools until budget issues prompted the program’s end last year.

Loida Salmond, president of the Le Monde board, said that parents were “shocked” and “heartbroken” by Norman’s decision to end the program and disappointed by what they saw as targeting of the program by the district because it was the only academic program cut.

Norman Public School’s retiring superintendent, Joe Siano, argued against the charter school, in part because two of the proposed locations for holding classes are churches. He said that the situation “raises questions about the nature and extent of control” the charter school would have within the buildings. He said that religious symbols and materials could be left in the classrooms and the children may come into contact with them.

The Norman school district currently operates two pre-K programs inside churches, First Baptist Church of Norman and NorthHaven Church.

Siano further argued that the district could lose nearly $1 million in funding if Le Monde became a reality.

State board member Bill Price said, “This is no harm to the district whatsoever. The idea of charter schools is innovation and this is the essence of innovation.”

The state board voted unanimously to approve The Academy of Seminole’s appeal in January, making the Le Monde School the third charter to receive approval under the 2015 law permitting charter schools in non-urban areas. The first school approved under the law was Carlton Landing on the south end of Lake Eufaula in eastern Oklahoma.

Jay Chilton

Independent Journalist

Jay Chilton is a multiple-award-winning photojournalist including the Oklahoma Press Association’s Photo of the Year in 2013. His previous service as an intelligence operative for the U.S. Army, retail and commercial sales director, oil-field operator and entrepreneur in three different countries on two continents and across the U.S. lends a wide experience and context helping him produce well-rounded and complete stories. Jay’s passion is telling stories. He strives to place the reader in the seat, at the event, or on the sideline allowing the reader to experience an event through his reporting. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from the University of Central Oklahoma with a minor in photographic arts. Jay and his wife live in Midwest City with three dogs and innumerable koi enjoying frequent visits from their children.

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