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Camelot gets $15.8M, but are their students well-served?

The SRC  voted last week to renew and increase Camelot's contract, now to serve 1,550 at a pricetag of $15.8 million.

The Times Picayune this week reported on a Camelot-run school in New Orleans, "Is Schwarz School a Safe Alternative?" Judging by the description of decaying facilities, a lack of physical safety for students, and an otherwise chaotic learning environment the answer is a resounding no.

When the School District of Lancaster visited a Camelot-run school in Philly in April, they were impressed with it. Lancaster votes this week on whether they will contract with Camelot to run an alternative-education school.

The Picayune article mentions "Camelot encouraged its staff to be aggressive," but is that encouragement limited to Schwarz? Earlier this year Councilman Kenney raised concerns about Camelot's managers who worked with a "problem-plagued" company that went bankrupt in 2005.

From the Picayune:

"In neglecting Schwarz, I feel that the powers-that-be were essentially saying to the kids: 'You had your chance and you blew it,' " said Mitra Jalali, a Teach For America instructor who taught at Schwarz last year. "In a merit-based system, maybe our kids aren't the most deserving. But in a needs-based system, they deserve the most."

Is Camelot in Philly giving the kids who need the most the safe, supportive school they deserve?

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Comments (9)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 11, 2009 11:59 am

yes of course, Camelot Philly is a very well run program and provides the students with a safe learning environment.

Submitted by Beentheredonethat (not verified) on November 11, 2009 8:09 pm

Looks like the Camelot PR person is posting now on our board. Wasn't Camelot the outfit that was being investigated a couple of years ago due to a couple kids dying while under their supervision?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 11, 2009 9:23 pm

No runs the schools better than the district...:(

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 13, 2009 11:02 pm

Nobody runs the schools better than the district...:(

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 31, 2009 12:28 am

I am outraged at the comments people make. Please go into some of the public schools and seed how the students with disabilities are treated. Look in the rooms they are put in and the materials they are given. I HAVE BEEN THERE!! Not only do the lack supplies (books for reading, toys to help them learn, materials for hands-on learning, and many other things) but they alos have a serious problem with the staff. When I was working in a PHILADELPHIA public school one of the aids said to me in reference to a student that I was working with "He is a horrible child! He is horrid...never listens...and is going to give you a problem!" The worst part was I knew the aid she lived on my street (oh and what I just wrote was actually put a lot nicer then what she really said). I was disgusted. This boy had severe autism and if properly taught (which from the way his classroom looked and the materials in it...oh and the location of the room...IN A BASEMENT IN A BACK DARK CORNER) he would behavior better. He would be able to learn but when people who work with him have that attitude and say it right in front of the child that is to me "VERBAL ABUSE!!!!!!" Anyway the day she said that it was the extended school year and we went to the pool. It was getting close to the time to get out. She is yelling you will never get him out of the pool...he is a brat....you won't get him out and we will all have to wait. WELL...I got him out of the pool on time actually a few minutes early using my special education background that I learned in college. WOW!!!! Someone in the school district actually uses it!!! NOT that I HAVE EVER seen. That is why I vowed to NEVER EVER work for the Phildelphia public school system!!!!!!!! The district does not run it better. The district does not care about the kids that struggle. They dont care about the kids that need extra help. The teachers don't care either all they want is there MONEY and SUMMER vacation.
I have to say that Camelot was NOT related to the deaths in the "BROWN Schools." Camelot for Kids, LLC is not related or connected to that company. Oh and to let the person know who made the arrogant comment

"Looks like the Camelot PR person is posting now on our board. Wasn't Camelot the outfit that was being investigated a couple of years ago due to a couple kids dying while under their supervision?"

was not a PR person invading your post. It was a parent.

Now I have been teaching for many years. I have grown up knowing Shallcross and Daniel Boone as the bad kids school. Now in the last 5 years I have seen Shallcross transform. I still am near the school. I have seen the transformation and was not sure where it came from because I know that it was not the school district. I researched it and found out it was Camelot for Kids, LLC. This past summer a friend knew I was looking for a job and sent me the post it was for Camelot. I applied. As an outsider k=not sure what I was getting into I learned about all the kids that come there and for the may reasons...I was scared. I was told about the methods and approaches. I was not sure I could do it BUT I did and I LOVE MY JOB. Many students come to Camelot schools from jail or rehab or other places and just start off on the wrong foot. I have seen some fly off the handle to try to hit teachers, staff and other students but it is quickly stopped and not the way you are implying here. We do not physically abuse, verbally abuse or abuse them in anyway. Of course as teachers all do we raise our voices and may tell a student who is very very disrepectful and disruptive to leave the room and we call staff for support. However, if a kids who is bigger and stronger then me is going to through a punch I ma either going to quickly move or stop the punch with my hand and hold it to guide him/her until they calm down. I am a special education teacher and I have had to do restraints on kids that are worse then anything I have ever seen because their mental health and behaviors were so out of control that to restrain them was the best when to protect them from hurting themselves, others and myself (or who ever the teacher was).

That is not the case at Camelot at Shallcroos, Boone or Excel. Yes we have some really rough students with severe behavior issues but our rules (Norms...an expected behavior) is strictly enforced and presented through the staff. Our students are the best!!!! We have many students who will be restored to a regular public high school who do not want to go. Do you know why? Because from what 8 students told me they never felt safe, that teachers cared about them or their learning and they never we given rules that were explained and expected by everyone. So before you make comments that you do not know anything about...go visit Shallcross, Daniel Boone, Excel or even the theraputic day schools from Camelot so you can see for yourself what is being done.

One more thing...if the school district is so excellent in running the Phildelphia schools then why does it let the schools get so run down that inside it looks like if some one had some health problem they would die just breathing in some of the schools. So just to let you know the School district lets the schools in the area the care least about get run down. Do you know why that is?????? Because the test scores are not up where they want them. Those schools are in the poorest areas or they are the alternative schools for kids who have been in trouble. Kids in these places may not have the resources that kids in the more affluent areas have so they don't have the resources to study or do projects. I am not making excuses but I am telling you the reality. do you research go to some of the school in the poorest areas of the Philadelphia school district then to the ones in the more affluent areas and see for yourself. Shallcross and Daniel Boone as well as other schools such as Washington high school and some elementary schools have been left with out care. Now that Camelot took over things are actually being repaired at the Shallcross because the administration pushes and pushes the school district.

Camelot is making the schools that it runs safe not only academically, socially, physically and mentally but the buildings as well. Please take time to look around. Kids and teens are our future and they need nuturing. NO CHILD IS BAD...THEY JUST MAKE BAD CHOICES!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 2, 2010 6:37 pm

I witnessed first hand how Camelot operates their schools in New Orleans. They have huge men who use intimidation and physical force,,,like body slamming kids. Encouraging behavior problem kids to stay home. Very poor documentation, disorganized, I saw on at least four occasions a Camelot Administrator sleeping on the job. I am glad they cancelled the contract but the Recovery School District would never admit it was because of their illegal and unethical practices. I just wonder if is any better. I left the Recovery School District for a more ethical setting.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 4, 2010 12:45 pm

It should be noted that Philadelphia has some truly excellent high schools which accept Students from across the city, so get your facts straight before making allegations that there is geographic discrimination, however it is fair to say that the better performing high schools selectively admit their students, so the ones who have already had success in elementary and middle schools... which generally means parents who make education a priority... will be the ones admitted to the "successful high schools".

Submitted by patrick bagley (not verified) on August 30, 2011 8:51 pm

I have worked in several alternative schools and find Camelot schools to be compassionate to their kids. Some Camelot schools are schools of choice....this means you choose to be in that school and want to get an education. IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO FOLLOW THE RULES OR GET AN EDUCATION ,then yes ,you may be asked to Not disrupt those students who do want to learn.
Please understand they call parents and let them know their child chose to go home or was sent home for behavior, almost instantly. If you want to get an education and return the next day ...YOUR choice
Yes , staff are trained to protect the child from him/her self and the other students.
Several of the Alternative Schools mentioned in the articles are true alternative schools...you are sent there because of behavior, you like to carry weapons,intimidate students and teachers as well as staff, sometimes you must wrestle the alligators. IT IS always the students choice to follow directions and get an education or not. Safety is the key in any Camelot school.

Thanks for reading

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 3, 2013 1:53 pm
I wasn't going to post on here but after reading some of these comments , I have to put something here in my own experience with Camelot schools . First of all my son went to one when he was young , he was not a bad child and still isn't but he non verbal n aggressive , the third day there , they lost him ! I had called to talk to him cuz that was our treatment plan , the guy answers the phone when I asked for my son , I heard him screaming in pain in the back ground , the guy hangs up the phone . I call right back and they go into another area but I still hear my son and then I hear a staff member (who I find out later) was sitting on top of my son while he was face down , I hear the staff say " shut the F**k up ! " yes you read that right . I then rushed over there and got my son , had the director called and I took my son out right there ! they DO hire big guys and just about anyone with no experience with medical much less Autism or children . I found a couple years later , same place had a child die while be restrained. First of all , ANY place that is going to work with these children or have restraining practice , they MUST know how to do that safely to help the person . Second , if you are fast to anger , you shouldn't be there . I do believe they are told to be aggressive with the kids to put fear into them . THAT. Doesn't help them when they go home they are not going to do well cuz they have been programed to respond to aggressive. Behaviors by adults which cause them to be even more . I don't know if Camelot is tied to Browns but from what I've reviewed , I would say looking like twins right now ..... We need help for our loved ones so please be that or get into a different type of business. You can't keep running & filing bankruptcy then making a new name for the same problem school !!!! Such as the one my son went to ....

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