Philadelphia charter school operators hope for long-term stability

- The Philadelphia School District is planning to implement new standards for charter schools, but some say the bar is just too high.

FOX 29's Jeff Cole reports.

It was graduation day Monday for Philadelphia's Charter School for Architecture and Design.

"It was crazy.  It was an experience. I loved it. Happy to be out," student Maya Woods said.

"It's been a lot of laughs. I've met two great people who'll stay in my life forever. It's a great school," student Kaitlin Edwards said. 

While these college-bound kids see their futures as bright. The days ahead for their South 7th. Street charter are dim. The School District says the school, known as CHAD is failing and should close.

"Sad to see that. My student learned a lot. Teachers provide support from start to finish—support for academics," parent Latonya Edwards said.

Of the 200,000 students attending Philadelphia schools more than 70,000 are in charters.

Critics says charters pull precious tax dollars out of the public schools while offering an education that is no better and sometimes worse.

The School District must approve charters to continue to operate. Of the 17 up for renewal, the district says 16 may keep their doors open.

"These schools by the legislature intent of the Charter School Law were to improve the performance for all students,"  DawnLynne Kacer with the School District of Philadelphia said. FOX 29's Jeff Cole asked, "That's what you are trying to do here?' Kacer replied, "That's what we're trying to impose here."

Included in the 16, two from ASPIRA, the charter school operator FOX 29 reported paid 350,000 through its insurer to settle a sexual harassment claim against its CEO.

READ MORE: Audit: Aspira charter schools lack transparency, accountability

The Pa. Auditor General last month found problems, including with issues like expenses for travel.

"They have been recommended for renewal  with conditions and those conditions will primarily speak to those financial, health and stability concerns noted in the report," Kacer said.

What's clear is that charters will remain an option for Philadelphia's students and parents. 

Charter operators say they want long-term stability on how the district governs them.

"We want to look into the future and create a reasonable policy that works going on into the future so we don't have to worry about the school board swinging one way or the another," CEO of Mastery Charter Schools Scott Gordon said.

 

 

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