Now there are five Philadelphia charters facing the threat of closure. In April, the School Reform Commission approved a resolution to close the Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School, the first step in the closure process.
One of the oldest and largest charters in the city, Palmer is a 1,300-student school with campuses in Frankford and Northern Liberties. According to the District, the school has myriad problems, including sagging test scores, a $3 million general fund deficit, and a practice of enrolling students over its approved enrollment cap of 675.
“This difficult decision was made with substantial evidence that this school is not serving the needs of students and their families,” said Superintendent William Hite in a statement. “We require better student outcomes from a public institution that was granted a charter to educate children.”
The SRC vote triggers a public hearing process on the closure. The school is fighting back with legal actions and a national petition drive.
According to District spokesperson Raven Hill, four other charters – Arise Academy, Truebright, Community Academy, and Imani Education Circle – “are all in various stages of the non-renewal process.” All remain open.
The SRC first voted not to renew Arise’s charter in 2012, citing academic, financial, and management issues. But the panel later postponed the hearing process to give the school – which serves students in the foster care system – 18 months to turn itself around. Despite changes, the commission held up its earlier nonrenewal vote. At a hearing in March, the school did not contest the closing.
Months of hearings were held last year concerning Community Academy, Philadelphia’s oldest charter, and Truebright, which has been facing closure since a vote by the SRC in 2012. Both schools are waiting to be heard by the Pennsylvania Charter Appeal Board. A hearing report about Imani is awaiting action by the SRC.