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SRC votes to revoke charter of Community Academy

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jan 17, 2013 08:43 PM

The School Reform Commission voted at Thursday's raucous meeting to begin the non-renewal process for Community Academy of Philadelphia Charter School, the city's oldest charter and a school that has existed for more than 30 years.

The SRC said that the school underperformed academically and also has a questionable financial history, assessments that were heatedly disputed by the school's founder and its lawyer. They vowed a long legal fight.

"The primary basis for this recommendation is that the school has consistently demonstrated poor academic performance," said Deputy Superintendent Paul Kihn."And its financial documents raise questions about its financial health."

Community Academy founder Joseph Proietta said that Kihn had presented a "false report" that was deliberately misleading.

"It is designed to justify an end-run appeal around Commonwealth Court," he said. "It is dangerously bordering on vindictive."

The District and the school have been in a court battle since 2011, when two of the four sitting SRC members voted to renew its charter -- not a majority. But the school contends that its charter was renewed.

Proietta founded Community Academy more than 30 years ago as a last-chance high school for would-be dropouts. After charter schools were made legal in 1997, Prioetta was the first to apply for a charter and eventually expanded the school to become K-12. It serves more than 1,200 students.

Prioetta disputed the District's assessment of its academic improvement, saying that its record is  better than the District's record. The school's attorney, David Heim, said that the District was likely to lose the legal battle and was wasting taxpayers money on it.

The next step in the revocation process is a hearing, which is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 25.

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Comments (22)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 18, 2013 7:00 am
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 18, 2013 8:34 am
What is?
Submitted by reformer (not verified) on January 18, 2013 10:12 am
what is ridiculous is they've taken so long to act. blame that on the last src. hopefully this school can be saved if they get new management. the building is fully utilized and they have the potential to be a good school. the district pointed to financial problems. bad outcomes and poor financials equal new mangement.
Submitted by Pubulis (not verified) on January 18, 2013 10:14 am
How is it that the Public schools slated for closure get closed next September when some of them perform better than this charter. Yet the Charter lingers on through litigation for years. Oh I forgot it can provide more political donations than a public school. Especially now that it is in trouble.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 18, 2013 1:33 pm
Pubulis, you also forgot that a large number of district schools have been failing, unsafe and in disrepair for decades. Strawberry Mansion and Germantown High School are just two. When teachers were having their necks broken, shouldn't we have demanded true change and closure? The old SRC should've done their job. The law allows for an appeal and that will be the end of the school.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 18, 2013 7:18 pm
I heard that.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 18, 2013 9:47 pm
The main reason this charter is not being renewed is due to low test scores and continuous and consistent poor academic achievement. The state, school district, SRC...anyone should see this and take drastic measures for the children's sake. The school is mismanaged, more simply put poorly run. The administration are so disconnected from the actual school community, they cannot see that stuffing 33+ students in every classroom from Kindergarten through 12th grade is not how you reach "at risk" students. Is it any wonder why test scores are so low? The administration, many of who are related, fail to connect effectively with their hard-working educators and have created a ridiculous, stressful work environment. There is no parent involvement within the school, not PTO, nothing. The connection to home and school is imperative for success and decent test scores. Whoever is leading the charge to deny renewal, more power to you. The students and the teachers who are wonderfully talented and dedicated should have a place to go, but please for heaven's sake remove the current administration..a.k.a "the higher ups", they are a cancer and are the primary source for the lack of progress and success. The CEO is more interested in standing on a soapbox and stating who wronged him rather than seeing what is needed to improve his school. Wipe the administration and put in educated, experienced and more capable people who know how to treat staff and yield results.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 5, 2013 5:22 pm
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 19, 2013 2:04 am
Community Academy Charter has been a "problem" for years. That said, why was World Communications Charter renewed? It has very low test scores, there was proven nepotism, and there were financial improprieties. Instead, Mr. Kihn gave them a 5 year renewal in October. School District schools are proposed for closure who have much better track records than World Communications Charter.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 19, 2013 12:11 pm
Would you support closing non-performing/fraudulent charters AND under enrolled/non-performing district schools?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 19, 2013 6:46 pm
In typical fashion, the CEO of Community Academy writes an open letter/blog on the school's website, basically telling the SRC they are unfair. What is unfair is that man knows very little, despite all his years involved with that school, about what a school needs to achieve. The CEO only really cares about the high school portion of the school and has openly stated that he doesn't prefer/like the "little ones". The school has principals and vice principals who no very little about how to treat a faculty or oversee a large staff and fail to put in place proper educational necessities like useful professional development, actual educated professionals to guide curriculum needs, or decent substitute teachers so the current faculty can use their time without creating an environment of resentment when they are sick because their colleagues have to cover for them. The overall poor behavior of the students and lack of a structured and decent discipline plan, large percentage of low achieving/special education students as well as disinterested and unmotivated students, lack of support and involvement from the parents because the CEO doesn't allow them to be a part of their child's education (because of how they speak and dress), and overwhelming class size make success with test scores virtually impossible. That school needs an enormous overhaul in the administrative area. The CEO and his executive staff...many of who are his family members need to turn the reigns over to a more effective administration.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 21, 2013 12:34 pm
Here's the post by the Community Academy CEO: Jan 18, 2013 The School Reform Commission (SRC) voted to hold a hearing regarding the status of CAP's charter. To Parents, Guardians, Families, and Students, You may have read in the newspapers or heard that the School Reform Commission (SRC) voted yesterday, Thursday January 17, 2013, to hold a hearing regarding the status of Community Academy’s charter. It is the position of the school that this was an improper vote, because we contend our charter was renewed in February 2011. This matter is still in appeal in Commonwealth Court. Do not be concerned. CAP will remain open, and we are tak- ing applications for next year. We will continue to fight as we have for 33 years to serve the people in the neighborhoods who need us, not the people with the big pocketbooks downtown. The SRC showed total disrespect for our school, our faculty, and YOU the families who send your children here. They believe they can ignore our due process rights and insult your judgment. Because when you think about it, that’s what those four people are saying, “You don’t know what you’re doing by sending your children to this school!” They think they are smarter than you are: that they know better than you do. They offer you choice, then they tell you: Trust Us-- we will make the choice for you! The SRC is arrogant, and they don’t understand the needs of the community and regular people. I am personally saddened by the actions of Chairman Pedro Ramos, who knows CAP, yet never questioned the false information provided by the School District staff even after I brought it to his attention. His prom- ises of a new, more open SRC have been replaced by the same rubber- stamp voting, and I wasted-time testifying before an SRC that had made- up its mind before I even opened my mouth. It’s a disgrace. Mr. Proietta Obviously he believes he's been wronged. Like him or not, the school is entitled to due process. That means they get their day in court on the legality of the first SRC vote and then, if they uphold the SRC's contention that the school's charter was not renewed, they get to present to the charter appeal board. This means that the school will be open at least through the 2013-14 school year. The question becomes what impact does this have on student and staff retention? Hopefully, the SRC will find an operator like mastery, aspira, or paradigm to take over the school and fix the program. That's the best thing that could happen for the children.
Submitted by Annonym (not verified) on January 21, 2013 12:02 pm
If this charter is left open, even with a new "operator," (e.g. New Technology Charter was given the same option) then how can the SDP close schools with better academic records and no suspicion of corruption?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 17, 2013 8:54 am
I agree it's definitely time for the Proietta family to bow out of that place, but the low test scores will prevail simply because the parental community is nonexistent. Parents/guardians must support the academics consistently and wholeheartedly. Most send there kids there because it's "safe"....if they only new.
Submitted by CM Berger (not verified) on April 27, 2014 5:16 pm
The very best charter schools I've seen are run entirely by a coalition of parents, teachers, administrators and community members. This is hard in "extremely low-income" communities where parents have grown up in families where THEIR parents didn't participate in schools because they were too busy keeping a roof over their heads, and have low self-esteem due to USA hatred of the poor, and don't feel qualified to opine because their own parents were also poor and too busy to participate in public schools. But to be effectively run, nevertheless - the schools MUST find ways to include the parents - it is up to the schools. The schools have to be relevant to future generations. That means, yes they have to teach technology, but they also have to teach REAL critical thinking-- and to parents as well as kids. So the mission of the charters in poor neighborhoods shouldn't end up being to alienate the kids from the parents by having them emulate upper class interests - the ability to move from lower to upper economic class has been definitively proven to NOT EXIST in current-day USA. It's easy to find the stats, to see that these youth will have to be indebted their entire adult life to go to college for advanced studies. Look at the big picture. Charters run by corporations have the interest of the RICH in their educational system, not the poor they are being paid taxpayer money to "educate". They will make them into more willing slave labor, slave laborers with a bit more education than the last gen of slave laborers.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 21, 2013 1:22 pm
Because the District can't accommodate the kids. They did it for Philadelphia Academy, Raising Horizons Quest (now Global Leadership Academy), and Hardy Williams too. Don't kid yourself, they don't want the charter kids back.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 17, 2013 8:13 am
The school district definitely does not want these particular charter kids back. There is absolutely NO CONSISTENT discipline practices...those kids do whatever they want, don't be fooled by their tidy uniforms...
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 23, 2013 10:15 pm
Teacher retention? If the teachers are smart, they will get the hell out of that school ASAP!! The place is a disaster, run by a bunch of clowns. There is no rhyme or reason to anything the administration does. Walk through that place and you can feel the tension. Look at the teachers' faces, they are miserable. When you get treated like crap day in and day out, you give up. Mr. Proietta should take a hard look at his administration, how they treat people....particularly those who work so hard to maintain some sense of calm in an environment of crazy....oh and then try to teach and get students to ace standardized tests. Run teachers, run.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 16, 2013 2:49 pm
I will never forget on my first day as a teacher attending orientation at the school. After the initial opening presentation by the CEO touting the school and its mission, we teachers were then subsequently shepherded into a small room for the process of benefit enrollment. After a short presentation about the different benefits and their components, Mr. Proietta came in, and in the course of his remarks, began issuing a disclaimer to us to the effect of how the school's purchasing practice of buying supplies from businesses that were owned by relatives of the school administration was quite proper and untoward. I remember being immediately struck by how odd it was that he would remark so at a perfunctory nuts and bolts information session about benefits and I felt right away that it was very inappropriate for the context and therefore unusual and I immediately became suspicious about the what would precipitate his explanation to the new teachers on their very first day of orientation. Indeed, I even remember thinking it might be some kind of pre-emptive thing to shield him and the school administration from something improper going on. As the remarks here attest, indeed and as the subsequent media disclosure revealed, it was a harbinger of the disclosures later reported about the school's shady financial and administrative practices. The SRC did the right thing. It's time to move on.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 17, 2013 8:44 am
There are so many shady goings on in that many incidences get swept under the rug for fear of "more bad press".
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 26, 2013 8:29 pm
I am for the closing of ALL low performing schools both District and Charter. I am for the Immediate expansion of all HIGH performing Charter and District Schools. Small example expand PACs or MAST to the IRS building. Consolidate Harding and Penn Treaty and use Harding's biking to create Masterman or Gamp two.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 7, 2014 5:57 pm
Close the School they kicked me out known I had ADD the pricple is a idiot CEO he's Scum I hope they close it down he told me I'll never amount to anything year 2006 well Fxck you CEO I own a night Club in Miami you lying bastard I made something of myself with out your bull Sh1t Rules .... CLOSE THE SCHOOL

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