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Montessori Children’s House

Montessori Children’s House
Effie Saifi, Founder

Effie
Saifi

Like Maria Montessori, founder of the
Montessori method and philosophy, Effie Saifi is a trailblazer who has
revolutionized education in Plano. Now, more than 30 years of accomplishments
are in jeopardy, because of the way the City of Plano treats citizens who own
small businesses.

Saifi
invested in a piece of land in 1995 with the intention to build a school
where children could be close to nature and expand as her student population
grew…until the city of Plano threw a wrench.

The city offered to buy Mrs. Saifi’s land to
expand a hike and bike trail. She declined. After all, she is a dedicated
educator with teachers, children and parents who depend on
her.

Initially,
the city appeared understanding, but they soon surprised Mrs. Saifi with a
lawsuit claiming “eminent domain” to seize her land. In 2017, at a meeting
for which Mrs. Saifi received no notification, a city employee misrepresented
the facts about the trail and Montessori Children’s House (MCH) to the city
council to obtain their authorization to file the
lawsuit.

City staff stated to the city council that
the bike trail would not impact on the expansion of the school and that Mrs.
Saifi’s special-use permit was expired (when, in fact, it never expires).
There were three viable alternative locations. However, the city decided to
seize the property that she saved, developed, owned for decades, and uses to
educate children.

“Eminent domain shouldn’t apply when there
are obvious alternatives,” Mrs. Saifi said, “and a bike path is not a
necessity. The only way the city obtained approval from the council in 2017
was by saying things that were not true.”

Montessori Children’s House

The impact on the school is obvious. Students
at MCH play (and many times) learn outside, so strangers biking or walking
just steps away poses a variety of unsafe situations.

Forced to defend herself in the lawsuit
brought by the city, Mrs.  Saifi was
met with aggression from the city’s team of attorneys, multiple delays, exclusion
of Mrs. Saifi’s witnesses, and a visiting judge biased in favor of the City
of Plano who was unfamiliar with the case history.

In June of 2023, seven years into litigation
and with no resolution, city bulldozers appeared at Mrs. Saifi’s property
without warning.

“The
children were terrorized,” said Mrs. Saifi, “and I was given no advanced
notice to prepare them or their parents for what was happening.” And the
process significantly exceeded initial estimates without proper
communication. Despite assurances of completion within one and a half months,
the project extended over six months causing disruptions such as excessive
noise, dust pollution, loss of valuable trees and water spray, affecting our
playground.

Mrs. Saifi asks that supporters please call
the city government, and plead the case for MCH and all teachers, children,
parents and others who depend on Mrs. Saifi to offer this vital,
transformational education to the citizens of Plano.

Send letter to Mayor John Muns and council
members to 1520 K Avenue Plano, Texas 75074. You can also contact your state
representative or state senator regarding the city of Plano’s misuse of the
“eminent domain” process.

“This school is my American dream,” Mrs.
Saifi said. “I have worked hard to build it up and pass it down to my
children. Thank you for helping me keep my land.”

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CONTACT

Visit
MontessoriPlano.com
for further information.


Read
More In The Spotlight HERE on LivingMagazine.net

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