Philly School District Goes to Supreme Court in Charter Case

Marion Herbert's picture
Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Philadelphia School District has asked the state Supreme Court to consider overturning a recent Commonwealth Court ruling about charter schools that could have dire consequences for Philadelphia and other cash-strapped districts.

The lower court ruled in April that the district had illegally capped enrollment at the Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School, upholding Education Secretary Ronald J. Tomalis’ finding that the charter was entitled to $1.3 million that otherwise would go to the district.

The School District had refused to give the Palmer charter that amount for 2008-09 and 2009-10 to pay for students the school enrolled beyond the 675 specified in its charter agreement.

The charter school has more than 900 students in grades K-12. Its main campus is at 910 N. Sixth St.

A state law that took effect July 1, 2008, bars districts from capping charter enrollment unless the charter school agrees to it in writing.

Although the charter renewal the SRC granted to Palmer included the 675 limit, the school maintained it had not agreed to the cap and was entitled to be paid for the additional students.

But in its petition for appeal with the Supreme Court, the district argued that the lower court erred because the 2008 law does not invalidate authorized charter agreements containing enrollment limits.

The district’s lawyers also maintain that the Palmer charter did not file timely appeals to the cap and improperly asked the state to intervene years later by withholding disputed funds from the district and sending the money to the charter.

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