Court Case May Affect Local Charter School Costs

Court Case May Affect Local Charter School Costs

The interior of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court

HARRISBURG PA – A case due to come Tuesday (Sept. 9, 2014) before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court may affect how the Pottstown, Spring-Ford Area, Pottsgrove and other school districts statewide stop or slow the loss of their students and supporting revenue to charter schools.

The lawsuit, which does not involve local districts directly, is being brought by the West Philadelphia Achievement Charter Elementary School against the Philadelphia School District. The charter school contends Philadelphia’s state-appointed governing body, the School Reform Commission, in 2013 wrongly placed limits on how many students would be allowed to enroll at the elementary school.

The case is being closely watched by charter school advocates across the state, according to The Pennsylvania Independent online news service, because it could set important precedents for how Philadelphia deals with the growth of charter schools within its borders.

Philadelphia, like the local districts, is required by state law to pay the charters a tuition fee for each student. If the court upholds the reform commission decision, it may provide a path for other districts to impose similar limits and therefore better control their payments to charters.

Attorneys for the charter claim the decision effectively dismantles Pennsylvania’s Charter School Law, threatens survival of charter schools, and eliminates educational options for families. The reform commission declined to comment.

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