State files charges against Phila. charter that opened in September

Posted: March 17, 2013

The Solomon Charter School only opened in September, but Pennsylvania's secretary of education filed charges Friday to revoke the operating charter of the Philadelphia-based cyber school for violating its charter and state law.

Secretary Ron Tomalis said the cyber school based at 1209 Vine St. was not meeting the requirement of offering a significant portion of its instruction to students online.

"Since opening its doors in September 2012, Solomon has primarily operated as a brick-and-mortar charter school, circumventing the brick-and-mortar charter school authorization process and negating the essential basis on which the charter was granted - that the school would provide a 'cyber' education to its students," Tomalis said in a statement.

He said Education Department officials visited the Vine Street headquarters three times. Each visit confirmed that Solomon was operating a regular charter school, and serving lunch and providing transportation for students.

In the application the Education Department approved last spring, Solomon said it would offer a combination of online and classroom instruction.

Founders said they would begin with seventh through 10th grades, teach Hebrew, and focus on world civilizations.

Stephen Crane, a Center City businessman and founder, had considered opening a Hebrew-language charter on Vine Street in 2010.

He could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon, and it was unclear how many students were enrolled at Solomon.

Fernando Gallard, a spokesman for the Philadelphia School District, said 138 district students were enrolled, including 26 special-education students. He said the district had paid Solomon $1.03 million for tuition.

A March 13 letter to Solomon's parents and students on the school's website said Crane and other school leaders were summoned to Harrisburg last week and told the school would be closed in June.

The letter said that officials were saddened and that while they were pursuing several options, the school was likely to close at the end of the current academic year.

While state law gives school districts authority to approve and oversee regular charter schools, the state Department of Education is in charge of the 12 cyber charter schools, which provide online, in-home instruction to students from across the state.


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

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