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Saving Sankofa

I read with interest a letter to Artvoice from Dr. Anthony Murphy concerning the Sankofa Charter School (Artvoice v7n16). In his letter Dr. Murphy asserts that I have had a long-term relationship with, and a financial interest in the school.

For the record my firm performed work on the school premises on a third-party basis many years ago. We were paid for the work at that time and neither I, nor my firm, has any ongoing financial interest in the school. When I was interviewed for the story that Dr. Murphy was commenting upon, I was asked direct questions regarding this. I assume this was because my efforts to purchase a controlling interest in the premises within which the school is located—Central Park Plaza—were a matter of public record and were well reported upon. Those efforts came to naught and were abandoned many years ago; indeed I would posit that, if one were to draw any conclusion from the facts at hand, it would be that I would have had a disinclination to assist Sankofa and, by extension, Central Park Plaza (for the record—that is not true).

Concerning the length and nature of my relationship with the school: I was not, as Dr. Murphy asserts “there from the inception of the school…” My relationship with the school began when I was invited to be a member of the board of trustees of the school in the spring of 2007.

While the inaccuracies within Dr. Murphy’s letter are trivial, they are used to support his conclusion. In my opinion, at least, this has two unfortunate (if unintended) consequences:

1. It beggars what may be the real story here and perhaps the very point that Dr. Murphy would want to make—that, with a strategic focus on curriculum and discipline, students in an “African-American”-centered charter school can and will have demonstrable success.

2. It devalues and caricaturizes the (multi-ethnic) staff, faculty, parents, and volunteers who have worked hard and sacrificed much to improve student performance and to keep the school open.

Samuel J. Savarino

Chief Executive Officer, Savarino Companies

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