HARRISBURG (May 24, 2021) – The following is a statement from Lenny McAllister, CEO of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools (PCPCS), on the School District of Philadelphia’s charter renewal recommendations released today by its Charter School Office, as well as the use of “surrender clauses” in the District’s renewal process.
“The Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools (PCPCS) is pleased to hear that the School District of Philadelphia is moving towards renewing all of the charter schools that are in the 2021 renewal cohort. After these past two uncertain school years, what students in Philadelphia and the Keystone State need and deserve is consistency – the knowledge that their academic homes will be available, open, safe, and nurturing as we all move through these challenging times.
However, just as we applaud steps to stabilize the learning environments for some of the most vulnerable schoolchildren in the City, we also stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the African American Charter School Coalition in opposition to the use of a ‘surrender clause’ in a renewal agreement being presented by the District. PCPCS does not condone the use of punitive measures, such as a surrender clause, as a condition of any renewal agreement. No public charter school operator should feel forced to give up their right to appeal their authorizer’s decisions just to keep their doors open. This over-reach merely seeks to advance a problematic trend and it is our hope that some of the tensions between Black-led charter schools and the District can be remedied swiftly, as our children are truly counting on us to ‘all be in this together’ as we make up academic ground lost to COVID-19.
The School District’s actions contradict the spirit of the Charter School Law but there is no state oversight of charter school authorizers and their misuse of the powers given to them in the law. Now, more than ever, we need fair, comprehensive reforms to PA Charter School Law to close the loopholes in the charter school authorizing process to ensure consistency and fairness for every public charter school.”
The Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools (PCPCS) is the state’s largest and most active organization advocating for both brick-and-mortar and cyber charter schools. Pennsylvania’s 180+ charter schools educate more than 165,000 students, and demand for these public schools continues to grow, with more than 25,000 students on charter school waitlists. For more information on PCPCS or PA public charter schools, visit www.pacharters.org.