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Truebright Science Academy Charter School v. Philadelphia School Disrict

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

May 15, 2015

Truebright Science Academy Charter School, Petitioner
v.
The Philadelphia School District, Respondent

Argued: April 13, 2015.

Appealed from No. CAB No. 2013-11. State Agency: Charter School Appeal Board.

Brian H. Leinhauser, Malvern, for petitioner.

Miles H. Shore, Philadelphia, for respondent.

BEFORE: HONORABLE BERNARD L. McGINLEY, Judge, HONORABLE PATRICIA A. McCULLOUGH, Judge, HONORABLE ROCHELLE S. FRIEDMAN, Senior Judge. OPINION BY SENIOR JUDGE FRIEDMAN. Judge Cohn Jubelirer did not participate in the decision in this case.

OPINION

Page 920

ROCHELLE S. FRIEDMAN, Senior Judge

Truebright Science Academy Charter School (Truebright) petitions for review of the January 8, 2015, order of the State Charter School Appeal Board (Board) denying Truebright's appeal from a decision of the School District of Philadelphia's School Reform Commission (Commission) not to renew Truebright's charter and directing Truebright to dissolve under section 1729-A of the Charter School Law (Law), Act of March 10, 1949, P.L. 30, added by Section 1 of the Act of June 19, 1997, P.L. 225, as amended, 24 P.S. § 17-1729-A.[1] We affirm.

On January 18, 2006, the School District of Philadelphia (District) granted Truebright a five-year charter with an expiration date of June 30, 2012. Truebright opened in September 2007. Truebright serves students in seventh through twelfth grades and is authorized to enroll a maximum of 350 students. Truebright's enrollment for the 2011-2012 school year was 321 students.

In September 2011, Truebright submitted a charter renewal application to the District. To assess whether Truebright had met its charter school goals and complied with all federal and state laws, the District reviewed and analyzed four areas: academic performance, financial health, governance and compliance, and customer satisfaction.

During a site visit in September 2011, the District found that: (1) professional development opportunities were unavailable to support effective special education program implementation; (2) the school leadership provided neither adequate oversight of the school nor clear goals and procedures to uniformly guide school practices; (3) there was neither rigorous professional development nor a system for evaluating teacher effectiveness; (4) stakeholders did not share a clear understanding of the school's stated mission, vision, and core values; and (5) teachers were not given opportunities to help drive decisions to enhance student performance. (Bd.'s Findings of Fact, No. 15.)

The District shared its site visit report with Truebright on November 9, 2011. On November 15, 2011, Truebright submitted a rebuttal application to the District. After reviewing the rebuttal application, the District recommended to the Commission that Truebright's charter not be renewed.

On April 19, 2012, the Commission initiated nonrenewal proceedings against Truebright at a ...


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