For six or seven years, KIPP Harmony Academy Principal Tieast Harris told the judge, Tracie Minor had been part of their school community in West Baltimore.

Minor, she said, started off as a parent with children at the charter school on Edgewood Street near Clifton Avenue. She then became a teacher’s assistant, working with some of the most challenging students and families.

On Dec. 21, 2023, Minor — who had a wear and carry permit — dropped her bag containing a loaded handgun and second magazine in the hallway, which a custodian discovered after walking out of the bathroom.

“I may have lost my licensed gun and dropped it on my way into the school campus,” Minor texted the principal.

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Harris said the school took the situation seriously and fired Minor.

“Families miss her. We miss her,” Harris said. “Our school community suffered from losing her.”

Minor, 36, of Mondawmin, recently pleaded guilty in Baltimore Circuit Court to carrying a loaded handgun. Circuit Judge John Addison Howard — after listening to a half-dozen character witnesses including a Baltimore City School Police officer who described her as remorseful and cooperative with the investigation — then struck the guilty finding and placed her on three years’ unsupervised probation.

Howard said he’s often stated that the most difficult part of being a judge is handing down an appropriate sentence.

“It’s not all that difficult in this case,” Howard said. “It would appear to the court that Miss Minor has suffered in substantial ways well beyond what most people who appear before me have experienced in terms of negative impact on their lives.”

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During his 17 years as a judge, Howard said, there are “not many things that astound me anymore.” But he said he was amazed with how the principal and school police officer spoke about Minor in such a positive way.

Howard said he also believed that it was the first time that anyone with a wear and carry permit had appeared before him for violating gun laws.

Baltimore State’s Attorney Ivan Bates, he noted, has recognized the danger that guns pose to the community and instituted policies in his administration. Howard said he admires and generally agrees with them.

“But I am absolutely convinced in this case it would be a miscarriage of justice to impose anything like the standard that has become appropriate in the view of the state’s attorney,” Howard said.

Earlier in the hearing on March 6, Assistant State’s Attorney Ray Clarke asked for a sentence of three years’ incarceration, with all but one year suspended, plus three years’ probation.

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Meanwhile, Assistant Public Defender Stephanie Salter, Minor’s attorney, requested probation before judgment.

Minor, she said, is a single mother of three children: 11, 13 and 16. Salter spoke about how her client lost her job because of what happened.

Next, Minor, who choked back tears and wiped her eyes with tissues, said she was remorseful and described the difficulty of hearing from former co-workers about her students.

“I just wish that the courts would find that this was just really an honest mistake,” Minor said. “I’m a great person. I have no ill-will toward anybody.”

“And if I could change this,” she added, “I would.”

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