Penn. Charter Education Funds Ruling Splits Court

Marion Herbert's picture
Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Commonwealth Court panel has ruled that the Pennsylvania Department of Education may not withhold state subsidies from a school district for the current school year for a claim made by a charter school alleging underfunding in a previous school year.

The ruling comes nearly two years after the court found the department must first withhold funds from a district accused of underfunding a charter school before it can hold a hearing to sort out whether those claims are true.

On May 23, the court, by 4-3, denied Chester Community Charter School's application for summary relief and found that because the charter school's claim against defendant Chester Upland School District is for underfunding in a previous school year, funds appropriated for the current school year may not be withheld.

As a result, the state's secretary of education must hold a hearing on the merits of the charter school's claim, the court said.

Judge Dan Pellegrini, writing for the majority, said the Charter School Law prohibits the secretary from withholding state funds from a district in any year other than the one to which that a charter school's claim for underfunding pertains.

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