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La Salle middle school in north St. Louis will close this year due to low test scores

School Illustration
Illustration by Rici Hoffarth
St. Louis Public Radio
Students at La Salle Charter Schools will be looking for a new school to attend in the fall. The school's leaders announced Friday that it will close at the end of the current academic year.

La Salle Charter Schools in north St. Louis will close at the end of the school year, leaders of the middle school announced Friday.

The school in the Carr Square neighborhood currently serves 120 students, 67 of whom are in sixth or seventh grades and now have the unexpected task of finding a new school to attend in the fall.

The school is in sound financial state, leaders said in a statement, but low student test scores caused the Missouri Public Charter School Commission to lose confidence in the institution and indicate that it did not expect to renew the school’s charter when it expires in 2025.

La Salle lost the academic sponsorship of the University of Missouri-Columbia in December 2021 due to its test scores.

A statement posted to the school’s website Friday reads, in part: “We worked directly with the Commission to create performance, governance, and leadership goals, and, although we are trending in the right direction to meet those goals, we are not moving quickly enough.”

The school employs 20 people, including teachers, administrators and support staff.

“We have a sound budget, so we will pay our teachers and our staff on time and on schedule,” Marcia Sullivan, chair of the board of directors of La Salle Foundation Inc., said in a statement. Sullivan declined an interview, through a spokesperson.

La Salle is the latest predominantly Black school in St. Louis facing closure or an uncertain future. La Salle’s student population is 97% Black, and 16% of students have disabilities. All current students are eligible for financial aid due to family income.

The Archdiocese of St. Louis closed Trinity High School in Spanish Lake, a private majority-Black school, in 2021. The archdiocese also identified St. Mary’s High School in Dutchtown, which serves a sizable Black population, to close this year, but school leaders announced a plan to remain open as an independent institution.

Though it has struggled with low test scores, La Salle outpaces its peers by some measurements. According to information on the school’s website, 97% of students have gone on to graduate from high school in four years, compared to 72% of St. Louis Public Schools students.

La Salle will continue its full program of classes, activities and services until the end of the academic year. That includes free meals and groceries, student counseling and tutoring. One of the school’s counselors will focus on helping parents find new schools for children in sixth and seventh grades who were not already set to enroll in high school for the next school year.

Correction: La Salle Charter Schools is a middle school located in the Carr Square neighborhood of St. Louis. A previous version of this St. Louis Public Radio report misidentified which neighborhood the school is located in.

Jeremy is the arts & culture reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.