PA Supreme Court orders Department of Education to pay $1.3 million to Walter D. Palmer Charter School
April 12, 2011
PHILADELPHIA – The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered the Department of Education to pay the Philadelphia-based Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School $1.3 million the School District of Philadelphia had previously refused to pay the charter school.
Last month, the Pennsylvania Department of Education affirmed that the School District of Philadelphia had no authority to limit student enrollments at the Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School for the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 school years.
A July 2008 change to the Pennsylvania School Code legislated against school districts imposing enrollment caps on charter schools. By withholding funding for students based upon an illegal enrollment cap it set against the charter school, the School District of Philadelphia violated the state School Code. The Pennsylvania Department of Education ruled the district must repay nearly $1.3 million for tuition dollars it withheld from the charter school since the 2008-2009 school year.
“The Pennsylvania Department of Education’s ruling should erase any doubt that school district-imposed enrollment caps are clearly illegal,” said Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools Board President Lawrence F. Jones, Jr. “Moreover, the Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court order to the PDE to pay Palmer Charter pending the School District of Philadelphia’s appeal to the Commonwealth Court further confirms caps are illegal. Palmer Charter’s costly legal battle for what rightfully belongs to its students should send a clear message that Pennsylvania charter schools will not tolerate any unlawful encroachment on their right to provide families public school choice.”
“This battle is not about an individual charter school, but about the ability of the entire charter school movement to satisfy Pennsylvania families’ growing demand for public school choice,” said Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School Founder and CEO Walter D. Palmer. “We are grateful to those who continue to fight with us to include the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, Senator Jeffrey Piccola, Attorneys Kevin McKenna and Joseph Doyle. We are also grateful to Acting Secretary Tomalis for his thorough, fair, and impartial consideration of this matter.”