School Reform Commission to decide fate of three charters

School Reform Commission Chairman Pedro A. Ramos
School Reform Commission Chairman Pedro A. Ramos
Posted: April 17, 2012

The School Reform Commission is expected to decide at its Thursday meeting whether to accept staff recommendations not to renew agreements with three Philadelphia charter schools.

But SRC Chairman Pedro A. Ramos said at a policy meeting Monday such a vote was only the first step in a process. The next step would be a hearing for each of the schools to state its case.

Twenty-five schools in the city have charter agreements up for renewal this year.

School District of Philadelphia officials have reviewed the schools and support renewing 17 and not recommending three: Arise Academy, Hope Charter School, and Truebright Science Academy. Decisions on the remaining five charter schools are pending.

Under the Pennsylvania Charter School Law, local school boards must conduct reviews of charter schools before granting five-year renewals.

The district review found Arise Academy, in Center City, to have deficiencies with academics, finances, and governance. Hope, in Germantown, and Truebright, in Kensington, had problems with academics and governance, the district reported.

Among the options, the SRC could grant conditional renewal by establishing specific performance targets, or choose to extend only for one year.

At the meeting, Arenda Bethel, a neighborhood activist in Northwest Philadelphia, expressed concern about the fate of the Hope Charter School. She said many of the 400 students were at risk and would have few or no options if the school closed.

Some have been kicked out of public schools and are several grades behind their peers, and others are referred to the school from the Juvenile Justice Center, she said. "We turn no one away," Bethel said. "We move them forward, maybe not as fast as you would like, but we are moving."

Ramos assured representatives of the three schools in the audience that as the review process unfolds, they would get a fair hearing.

"You should not think that all we are going to do is look at numbers on paper," he said. "We are listening."


Contact staff writer Jennifer Lin at 215-854-5659, jlin@phillynews.com, or follow @j_linq on Twitter.

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