School owner says former employees incited violence

David T. Shulick filed a complaint against six former Delaware Valley High School employees.
David T. Shulick filed a complaint against six former Delaware Valley High School employees. (DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer)
Posted: September 26, 2012

David T. Shulick, owner of an embattled alternative-education company, has begun legal proceedings against six former employees of his Delaware Valley High School who he says tried to incite violence at the school's campus in Reading.

In a complaint filed in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court last week, Shulick alleges that the former staffers - including the one-time director of Delaware Valley's shuttered disciplinary school on Kelly Drive - illegally removed items from the building and contacted Delaware Valley students in Reading to urge them "to damage or destroy" the for-profit company. The documents say the former staffers' actions helped trigger two disruptions at the school last week.

The complaint says the six retaliated after they were fired Sept. 14 following "a detailed investigation of their conduct."

Shulick, a lawyer, asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order to bar the former employees from contacting Delaware Valley students and their parents.

He also asked the court to prohibit the former staffers from communicating with representatives from the Philadelphia and Reading School Districts "or any other district within 40 miles of Philadelphia County" and to stay at least a mile away from any of Delaware Valley's four current or former sites.

Shulick declined to comment.

A hearing on his request is scheduled for Friday.

The complaint is the latest chapter in a recent saga at Delaware Valley that includes a federal investigation into the school's relationship with Chaka "Chip" Fattah Jr., former employees suing for back pay, massive layoffs, and the loss of lucrative contracts with the Philadelphia School District.

All six former employees named in the complaint Shulick filed last week had been employees at the Kelly Drive facility who were transferred to Delaware Valley's school in Reading after the Philadelphia district ended the company's contracts in August.

In 2011-12, Delaware Valley had contracts with Philadelphia totaling $4.1 million to operate the disciplinary school on Kelly Drive and a program for at-risk students in Southwest Philadelphia. Delaware Valley also operates a school in Warminster.

Andre Bean, Kelly's former site director, is among those named in Shulick's complaint. On the advice of his attorney, Bean declined to comment Friday.

Before Bean was terminated Sept. 14, he was Delaware Valley's regional director and site director of the disciplinary school in Reading that Shulick's company operates under contract with the Reading district.

Staff said the Reading program, which recently moved from Pottstown, has about 40 students this fall.

Besides Bean, the defendants are a former academic director, a dean of students, a maintenance worker, and two support staffers. None could be reached for comment.

The complaint alleges the six had been "calling and stalking" current and former Delaware Valley employees to incite violence or interfere with the school's operations.

The defendants, the complaint also charges, illegally obtained access to Delaware Valley campuses, disabled security systems, and attempted "to steal, damage or destroy valuable educational materials and property. . . . "

The documents said the school was told that terminated employees used keys and pass codes to illegally enter the Kelly site. The landlord has since changed the locks.

Two administrators at Reading blamed former staffers for a Sept. 17 incident in which one student had a tantrum, jumped on a table, threw juice, and spit on the new site director, and led nine other students in a walkout.

The next day some students entered Bean's former office, "constructed an illegal wall," and kicked and punched a hole in it, the complaint said.

According to the filing, the parent of the student in the Sept. 17 incident said Bean had phoned the student two nights earlier to tell him he had been fired and that the school's codirector had "ratted" on him.

Delaware Valley's Reading program has had problems before. Last spring a brawl was reported on a bus transporting Delaware Valley students. Company representatives later told members of the Reading school board that the staffers responsible for the lack of oversight had been fired, including the site director.

Last Friday, the Reading Eagle and other media reported that a Reading police officer was injured when all the officers on duty were called to Delaware Valley-Reading to control a large fight that erupted before 9 a.m.

Eight students face charges of rioting or disorderly conduct. The injured officer was cut by a razor blade while searching a detained student for weapons, the Eagle said.

And four students not directly involved with Friday's incident were charged with multiple crimes related to stealing a car and vandalizing property at Delaware Valley's site early Sunday.

Reading Superintendent Carlinda Purcell said Friday that her district contracts with Delaware Valley to provide services for some students but does not supervise Delaware Valley's staff or its operations.

She said the district was concerned about its students and would work on the issues that affect them.

Purcell said she could not comment on any legal actions Delaware Valley may have filed in Philadelphia against its former employees.


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

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