All three schools will remain open in 2012-13.
Truebright opened in North Philadelphia in 2007 with a focus on science and technology. In the academic year that just ended, it had 307 students from seventh through 12th grades.
As The Inquirer has reported, Truebright is one of more than 130 charter schools nationwide run by followers of a Turkish imam, M. Fetullah Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in the Poconos.
Several federal agencies are looking into allegations of kickbacks from Turkish teachers to the Gulen movement at the charters nationwide, according to knowledgeable sources. One-third of Truebright's teachers and administrators are Turkish, and most are working in this country on nonimmigrant visas.
The SRC has not mentioned the Gulen connection. Instead, the commission followed staff recommendations that Truebright's charter should not be renewed for 18 reasons, including failing to meet state academic standards, students' lagging test scores, and failing to meet its academic goals.
For example, while the charter had promised to meet the state's academic standards for the federal No Child Left Behind law every year, the school fell short in its first year and in 2010-11.
On Tuesday, Doresah Ford-Bey, executive director of the district's charter office, said state law requires that at least 75 percent of teachers at a charter school be certified. She said the state Department of Education found that only 60 percent of Truebright's teachers were certified.
Brian Leinhauser, Truebright's attorney, said the charter's rate actually was much higher. He said the staff list that the charter sent the department for its calculations mistakenly included names of administrators and a security guard who were not required to be certified.
Truebright's trustees said in a statement that the charter office's overall recommendation had been based on "seriously flawed data."
The hearing before Phinorice J. Boldin, an outside attorney who is serving as hearing officer, is scheduled to resume Aug. 20.
After the hearing concludes, the SRC will take a final vote on whether to close the school.
Contact Martha Woodall
at 215-854-2789 or firstname.lastname@example.org.