Frontier online school will surrender its charter

Posted: July 08, 2012

Frontier Virtual Charter High School's board disputed on Friday many of the allegations the state Department of Education leveled against it, but said it felt compelled to surrender the school's operating charter.

In a statement released late in the day, the board said it voted Thursday with "profound sadness" not to fight Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis' decision to revoke the charter. That came after the department rejected Frontier's proposal to suspend operations temporarily so it could show the department it was able to educate students.

In the rejection, the department for the first time detailed "allegations against Frontier - many of which are inaccurate," the statement said.

The board said there was "no evidence" to support the department's allegation that Frontier was not open for weeks or had disregarded the educational needs of students. The board also denied allegations Frontier had spent taxpayer money on nonschool expenses.

The school - one of 13 cyber charter schools that provide online instruction to students in their homes - opened last fall.

Frontier's board voted to surrender its charter during an emergency meeting Thursday. The decision came three days after Tomalis notified Frontier that he intended to yank the school's charter for failing to deliver education it promised, violating the state charter-school law, spending taxpayer money on nonschool expenses, and failing to maintain the finances necessary to provide services to students.

In the statement, Frontier's board said the school did not have the money needed to fight revocation at public hearings and felt that "the deck was stacked against the school with no real opportunity for an impartial hearing or ultimate success."

Frontier, which has administrative offices in University City, said it would help students find new schools. According to the state, Frontier has about 90 students.

Also Friday, an organization that represents the state's 167 charter schools praised both Frontier and the department.

"From what we understand, [the department] conducted a fair, exhaustive, and impartial investigation of the difficult challenges facing Frontier and came to a sound decision," the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools said in a statement.

"We have always supported quality and accountability in all forms of public education, and this is no exception. This is an authorizer simply doing what a good authorizer does. But more importantly, it's an example of both parties' using the flexibility built into the charter law and acting quickly and rationally so that parents and children have time to move to a new school before the beginning of the 2012-13 school year."


Contact Martha Woodall at 215-854-2789 or martha.woodall@phillynews.com.

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