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Protest Calls For Baltimore City Schools CEO's Ouster, Broad Reforms

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- More than a dozen people rallied outside the City Hall calling for the immediate firing of Schools CEO Sonja Santelises.

The group People Empowered By The Struggle is also calling for a fully elected school board. The residents included parents, grandparents and students expressing frustration with what they called a failed curriculum.

They are angry Santelises has gotten two raises despite the poor performance of elementary and middle school students. They claim that poor implementation of virtual learning during the COVID-19 pandemic didn't help matters.

"We need to be taken care of," said Jordan Jones, a high school sophomore. "We need talking to. We need counseling."

In recent years, state law has changed to allow for hybrid and fully-elected school board members. Right now, city school board members are selected by the mayor. Any change to that process would have to begin in Annapolis.

"These children do not have years of time to wait for the educators and for the board of education to get their act together and to be able to provide a quality education," said Pastor Shannon Wright, a member of the group and a former Republican candidate for mayor.

Leaders of the organization said more than 40% of the city's public high school students earned below a 1.0 grade point average this past school year, a statistic they are hoping to turn around.

"If we do not fix the education system, we're going to have a very hard time getting these kids into college," Wright said.

In a statement, school system officials did not address the criticisms levied by protesters.

"City Schools respects the right of members of our school community to be heard," officials said.

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