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Parents shocked by letter announcing Va. school closure

Monday - 1/20/2014, 6:52pm  ET

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Saint Charles School will close at the end of the school year in June, says Rev. Tuck Grinnell. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)

Jamie Slater, special to WTOP.com

WASHINGTON -- Saint Charles School in Arlington, Va., announced last Monday that it will close at the end of the school year. The Rev. Tuck Grinnell sent home a letter to break the news, which parents say came without warning.

"You see the word closing and you say, 'What do you mean you're closing?' I mean, we were absolutely dumbfounded," said parent Kayleen Fitzgerald, who has a third- grader.

Rev. Grinnell explained that low enrollment at 52 percent of capacity forced his decision. Despite advertising and recruitment campaigns, he said, Saint Charles School could not survive financially.

According to Fitzgerald, though, she would have at least liked the chance to save it. "To not even be able to have the opportunities to even try, to me is disrespectful, unkind and un-Christian," she said.

"I understand their feeling," Rev. Grinnell said, in reference to parents like Fitzgerald, "but I also know that they did everything they could."

As many schools will have their open houses next week for the next school year, the news may come too late for some parents. "This whole thing has just been handled horribly," Fitzgerald said. "Those families who have multiple children and want a Catholic school education for their children are having trouble finding schools that have openings in each of the specific grades that their children are."

Saint Charles School currently serves preschool through eighth-grade levels. It will be restructured as the Saint Charles Early Childhood Center, which Grinnell says is slated to open in June.

WTOP's Megan Cloherty contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

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