Community group tries to nix sale of high school building to Temple University

DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER The recently sold William Penn High School, on Broad Street near Master in North Philadelphia.
DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER The recently sold William Penn High School, on Broad Street near Master in North Philadelphia.
Posted: July 16, 2014

A NONPROFIT KNOWN as the William Penn Development Coalition filed an injunction Friday with the state Supreme Court to stop the school district's sale of William Penn High School to Temple University.

The community coalition - composed of neighborhood groups in North Philadelphia's Yorktown section, area business leaders, William Penn alums and educators - claims the School Reform Commission blocked its attempts to buy the high school, on Broad Street near Master.

The filing states that the coalition began the process of purchasing the property in the fall for "community use including a mixed use of retail and a training academy in the high demand fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics."

But in May, the SRC turned over the sale of 20 school properties to Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. By June 17, the PIDC told the coalition that William Penn would be sold to Temple, the group said.

The group also alleges the SRC violated state law governing how to sell school property when it authorized the sale on June 19, according to the injunction. On the same day, the SRC also voted to suspend provisions of the code allowing for public comment in the sale of a school property.

"This was a deal that was made," said Priscilla Woods, the coalition's treasurer. "No one came to the community. There was no community engagement."

The group hopes to reset the transaction.

"We would like to have the transaction reversed, keep the school open as a public school and get accountability for the community who are taxpayers," said Phil Harris, the coalition's secretary.

District spokesman Fernando Gallard declined to speak about the injunction, saying the district doesn't comment on pending litigation.


On Twitter: @ReginaMedina

Online: ph.ly/DNEducation

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