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COMMUNITY NEWS / COVERING ORANGE COUNTY'S 33 CITIES

Costa Mesa

October 04, 2000|Jennifer Kho, (949) 574-4275

Shalimar Learning Center is on track to reopen after dozens of community members expressed their support for the after-school tutoring program at a meeting Monday evening.

Children held up signs in support of the center and Shalimar's teen leaders also asked for a reopening, saying they think of the center as a second home where they can get advice, information and supplies often unobtainable at their real homes.

"We have listened very carefully tonight, and it is very clear that there is not one person in this room who wants the center to be closed," said Rev. Bill Flanagan of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, speaking for the center's sponsors. "We're going to work very hard with you to open the center again."

The 6-year-old center shut its doors after children and parents protested the Sept. 12 firing of Maria Alvarez, a longtime staff member.

Randy Barth, volunteer chairman of Think Together, the organization that oversees Shalimar and five similar learning centers, said staff members will meet later this week to begin the process of reopening.

Barth said the decision to close the center was made because staff members felt threatened by the angry protests of the community.

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