By Maura Pennington | Watchdog.org
PHILADELPHIA — A charter school is suing the School District of Philadelphia and its five-member executive School Reform Commission for suspending provisions in the Pennsylvania Public School Code.
The suspensions, the lawsuit says, “jeopardize the very existence of charter schools in Philadelphia.”
The plaintiff, West Philadelphia Achievement Charter Elementary School, has been operating since 2001, the same year that the School Distress Act was amended to grant the SRC its sweeping authority over Philadelphia’s schools.
The lawsuit argues that the SRC’s power to unilaterally suspend regulations is unconstitutional because it violates a charter school’s right to due process.
It became a contentious issue in August, with the approval of SRC-1. The resolution enables the district to force schools to accept enrollment caps and deprives schools the possibility of reimbursement from the state Department of Education if the district fails to make payments for students.
West Philadelphia Achievement is the first to take major action.
“It is certainly the most courageous school,” said Bob O’Donnell, the plaintiff’s lead attorney.
The district has until the end of March to respond on the merits of the lawsuit.
“The district does not comment on active or pending legal cases,” said spokesman Fernando Gallard.
In a nutshell, the conflict is about the cost of charter schools. If a family decides to send their child to a public charter school, the district is responsible for paying about $8,500, the per pupil cost.
Even with the deductions the district is allowed to take, it comes out as a loss. This year the district will spend $25 million more than budgeted because of the number of students in charter schools.
The SRC’s solution is to limit the seats available in charter schools, meaning thousands of students already on waiting lists for charter schools will be pushed into district-run options.
Philadelphia is the largest school district in the state, by far, but the conflict between cash-strapped school boards and charter schools is playing out across the state. Legislation to change some aspects of the state law regarding charter schools, including the reimbursement process, is hung up in Harrisburg.
West Philadelphia Achievement serves about 600 students. The district will pay for only 400 and has told the school to write that limit into their charter or face non-renewal, the lawsuit claims.
When the district crafted a draft Charter School Policy in February that seeks to codify the SRC’s suspensions of Pennsylvania school laws, West Philadelphia Achievement filed its case with the state Supreme Court. It also has filed a petition for an injunction to stop the district from acting on the suspensions of the school code in SRC-1.
The outcome would have repercussions throughout the charter sector.
“Other charter schools could be affected in a whole variety of ways,” said O’Donnell.
Either they would be back under the provisions of the state’s Charter School Law or subject to more action by the SRC, he said.
About 55,000 students are enrolled in Philadelphia’s 86 charter schools. Some 131,000 attend traditional public schools in the district.
Contact Maura Pennington at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @whatsthefracas.
- Arizona mom won’t give up on special needs kids, no matter what state says
- Reviving a 1970s lawsuit, DOJ would keep black students in failing schools
- Relocating sexually abusive teachers would be more difficult under Pennsylvania bill
- DOJ backpedals on Louisiana voucher lawsuit
- Court says charter schools won’t pay for Atlanta’s pension debts
- Biggest education impact from shutdown? Furloughed bureaucrats
- Appeals court upholds Arizona school choice program
- Indiana’s voucher program expands; diversity a factor in one family’s choice of school
- ‘Vouchers don’t do much good for students’ claim is false
- NYC mayor’s race could affect school choice
- Vermont public school goes independent, raises ire from state bureaucracy
- Arizona education savings accounts aren’t vouchers, study says
- Legal institute fights Alabama union’s attempt to repeal school tax credit
- Experts: School choice improves education in public schools
- SC school-choice program helps special needs kids, could expand
- DOJ wants Louisiana parents out of voucher lawsuit
- U.S. House passes bill to prevent ‘passing the trash’
- ‘Non-traditional’ journalists barred from viewing tax-funded test results early
- New center hopes to help charter schools help kids with special needs
- Charter school advocate to Philadelphia schools: Listen to parents
- $45 million not enough for Philadelphia teachers’ union
- Study: Rhode Islanders support school choice
- Study: Choice would help failing Chicago schools
- Scholarships could lift SC school dedicated to real-life, hands-on learning
- Parents make good school choices, study says
- Divisive charter school reform bill headed toward vote in PA
- In Louisiana school voucher lawsuit, DOJ changes gears
- Opponents sue Washington to overturn charter school law
- School choice proponents’ challenge? Educating parents
- Judge: Federal oversight may not hamper school voucher program
- PA lawmakers push to amend tight teacher furlough policies
- College ready: A Milwaukee inner-city school success story
- Proposed economic furloughs could slay sacred cow of seniority in Pennsylvania schools
- What is Massachusetts doing right?
- Goldwater to appeal Louisiana school voucher decision
- Want to end poverty? Educate the kids
- Breakdown in Philly schools not only about the money
- North Carolina scholarship program on firm legal footing, attorney argues
- Philadelphia school district threatens charters
- Belief in student ability key to success at Milwaukee charter school
- Three things to know about Philadelphia’s school budget: Debt, pensions and safety
- Choosing to sue: Here’s a look at some 2013 lawsuits involving school choice
- Philly charter schools outperform district counterparts
- California students sue state over ineffective teachers
- Study: Public supports parent choice in education
- Under new management, Philly Renaissance Schools show growth
- New Orleans tops school choice index
- AZ to consider four school-choice expansion bills
- Florida family ‘blessed’ to be apart of scholarship program
- PA lawmakers put education at top of agenda in election year
- Louisiana: Feds ‘more interested in skin color than … education’
- Charter school for Philadelphia foster children will not be renewed
- Governor ties proposed PA education funding to targeted grants
- WA’s first charter school serves children, families of ‘extreme poverty’
- Vermont attempts to take independence from independent schools
- Philly stumbles on way to simplifying enrollment system
- Plan for Philly schools keeps charters in check
- Missouri ballot initiative would increase funding for public, private schools
- New York charter school focuses on family, community
- NC school vouchers on hold
- WI voucher bill would help special needs students denied open enrollment
- Philadelphia schools will end another year in red
- PA universities expect state, students to pick up tab on rising tuition
- Two ESA bills get House support in AZ
- Thousands rally to support New York charter schools
- California’s defense begins in Vergara trial
- Accountability or overregulation? Charter supporters split over Minnesota bill
- PA considers empowering universities to authorize charter schools
- Bill would make Florida students eligible for scholarships
- To test or not to test? Florida school choice proponents split
- Philly school district broke, but the pay is good
- Philadelphia charter school sues public school district
- Colorado Supreme Court to hear school voucher case
- Vermont to reconsider education funding formula
- Arizona Supreme Court allows school choice program to stand
- Massachusetts charter school bill revived
- Quality schools matter more than racial integration, black leaders say
- FL again takes up school-choice bill
- Choice Media’s videocast tackles host of education issues
- Ending teacher seniority rules beyond Philly requires legislative action
- New website helps Detroit parents choose schools
- Philly schools caught on funding merry-go-round
- Louisiana bill would coordinate school choice programs
- New D.C. charter school lottery eases but doesn’t eliminate waiting lists
- Federal bill attempts to help replicate high-quality state charter schools
- Philadelphia schools awaiting taxes from city, state
- ACLU alleges discrimination in 138 NJ districts
- MN anti-bullying bill could have unintended consequences
- Mississippi’s special needs bill to return next year
- Illinois considers three-year ban on virtual charter schools
- Violent Philly high school source of worry
- Auditors examining troubled Philadelphia school district
- Civil liberties organization sues to overturn anti-bullying law
- Legal conflict over teacher seniority in Philly heats up
- Academics, culture help mom choose private school
- PA cyber charter schools could be funded by state, not districts
- Arizona expands school choice program
- The sticky statistic of statewide charter school performance in PA
- Louisiana offers new vocational technical program
- Benefits are driving high personnel costs in Philadelphia schools
- Educators look to grow with expanding Hispanic demographic
- Philadelphia flexes muscle over charter schools
- Philly school district facing another bleak budget
- Andre Agassi dedicates Indianapolis charter school
- For PA and neighboring states, school spending and graduation rates don’t add up
- At long last, PA school buses could be getting a boost
- Arizona charter schools need funding fix, proponents say
- Progress reports for Philadelphia schools show uneven achievement
- Teachers union opposes ‘Bad Teachers’
- Governor’s plans to boost education funding falls short
- Georgia’s school-choice program draws legal challenge
- Missouri parents want more choice in education
- U.S. lawmakers to consider charter school bill
- Florida’s school choice expansion awaits governor’s signature
- PA charter schools may see drop in funding with new special education formula
- In Nevada, your child’s school records could cost $10K
- AG, lawmakers propose similar updates to PA charter school rules
- NC school voucher program gets temporary green light
- Philly school district’s lack of transparency frustrates families
- Bullying motivates many parents to home-school, attorney says
- Philadelphia City Council gambles to fund schools
- PA Supreme Court pushes forward charter school’s lawsuit against Philly
- Feds consider joining school choice game
- Florida’s new school choice law likely to spark others
- California teacher reform lawsuit sparks copycat, more likely to come
- School choice is popular — when parents know about it
- What can private schools learn from charters?