Pa. investigating alternative education school in Bucks

Posted: February 20, 2013

The Pennsylvania Department of Education is investigating a Bala Cynwyd company's alternative-education program in Bucks County after finding a series of problems in the company's program in Reading.

Department spokesman Timothy Eller confirmed Tuesday that state authorities were gathering and examining information about Delaware Valley High School's operations in Warminster. The program serves students with academic and disciplinary problems from school districts in Bucks and Montgomery Counties.

Eller declined to provide additional information about the state's review. But sources with knowledge of Delaware Valley's operations said the department had requested information about the school's academic program and counseling services.

Last month, the Reading School District canceled its contract with lawyer David T. Shulick's company after the state began the process of revoking approval. An Education Department investigation had found academic shortcomings and problems with violence at Delaware Valley High School's program in Reading.

At the time, Eller said the problems uncovered in Reading were so serious that the department would investigate Delaware Valley's program in Bucks.

Delaware Valley officials did not respond to requests Tuesday for comment.

Last month, Shulick, Delaware Valley's owner, sent documents to the state Education Department that he said would refute the department's allegations that the program in Reading had not provided required academic and counseling programs and had failed to address student violence.

Delaware Valley's Warminster site, 299 Jacksonville Rd., is the for-profit company's sole remaining location. Districts in Montgomery and Bucks are expected to pay Delaware Valley about $958,000 for 100 students this school year.

Delaware Valley made some changes to trim costs in Warminster after the Reading district last month ended its $1.1 million contract for 125 students. The company laid off some Bucks employees and cut the salaries of others, sources said. A few staff members quit.

The state's review of the program in Bucks County is the latest development in Delaware Valley's saga over the last 12 months.

In that time, a federal investigation into the school's operations and its relationship with Chaka "Chip" Fattah Jr. came to light; the school experienced massive layoffs; it lost lucrative contracts with the Philadelphia School District; and Shulick's firm filed suit against six former Reading employees, blaming them for inciting student violence.

Although the Reading program closed, Eller said, department officials would meet soon to discuss holding a hearing on Delaware Valley's operations there.

By state law, private providers need approval from the Education Department to run disciplinary programs for students with problems including chronic truancy and fighting.


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

 

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