Commonwealth Court denies charter school's appeal

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Apr 8, 2014 9:49 AM

(Harrisburg) -- In a decision posted this morning, the Commonwealth Court has affirmed the York City School District Board of Directors's decision to revoke the charter for New Hope Charter School.

New Hope Charter School rally

Writing for the Court, Senior Judge Colins says the charter was properly denied for "failure to meet state academic performance requirements."

The Court strongly affirms the use of PSSA standards to determine proficiency, and potentially, to revoke a charter's license in the future. 

The Court's decision also allows for considering local school district performance in revoking a charter.

"If school district schools are achieving better academic results, even if those results are also below state standards, nonrenewal of the charter will place students in schools that better satisfy state educational requirements," writes Senior Judge Colins.

The Court also finds that New Hope violated the Ethics Act and the nonprofit law in it.

New Hope Academy High School Principal Don Trost says in a statement: “We’re deeply disappointed by the court’s ruling, but this certainly is not the end of the road. New Hope’s parents, staff and students are committed to protecting and serving the children in this community that we all love. Our focus remains on making on sure our children receive the great education they deserve."

In arguments in March, President Judge Dan Pelligrini got visibly frustrated with answers from New Hope's attorney, Robert O'Donnell. Three times he asked him if the current test scores are not reason to revoke a charter, what would be a better solution?

Three times, he didn't get an answer.

New Hope serves about 800 students in grades 5-12. The York City School District Board of Directors voted to revoke its charter in 2012, before the school appealed to the Charter Appeal Board and eventually the Commonwealth Court.

Published in News, York

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