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Judge Denies Chester Community Charter School Proposal to Take Over K-8 Schools

In the first effort of its kind in Pennsylvania, a local charter school recently announced their intention to take over all kindergarten through eighth grade (K-8) education in its local district. Currently, Chester County Charter School (CCCS) serves most elementary and middle school students in the Chester Upland School District. They asked a Delaware County judge for approval to convert all remaining schools to charter schools, a request that was denied last month.

CCCS asked the court to accept proposals to convert any K-8 schools not currently operating under the charter company. Yet, the judge said that while some charter school expansion may be necessary to fortify the financially strapped school district, he felt the CCCS petition was premature at this time. This spring, he will hear a new plan for the district’s financial recovery.

A Closer Look at Chester County Charter School

CCCS currently educates more than half of all grade-school aged children residing in the Chester Upland School District and operates the largest charter school in Pennsylvania with more than 4,300 children. After the district was unable to get out of debt, the state took over through a process called receivership. Under this system, all financial recovery efforts and leadership changes must be approved by a local judge, including adding more schools to the CCCS roster.

Opposition to the Charter School Takeover

Members of the Chester Upland Education Association and some public-school teachers were concerned a full charter school takeover would limit school choice, impacting students who may not thrive within the charter school model.

The Vice President of the CUEA works with special needs students who are not getting their needs met in CCCS. Without an alternative, she worries these children may fall through the cracks and she may have valid reasons for her concerns. According to the most recent test scores, district-run schools perform on average the same and sometimes better than charter schools.

Some parents with students in the district filed a lawsuit claiming a takeover would prevent any community input and put the students at an academic disadvantage based on the charter school test scores. Unions representing district teachers and other staff are also concerned a takeover would mean certain termination for their members. Others feel it will fix the underlying problem of inadequate funding. A financial recovery plan for the district was expected to be submitted late last month. If approved, it may delay the charter school takeover.

The education law lawyers at MacMain, Connell & Leinhauser resolve complex legal matters facing today’s educators and educational institutions. We ensure schools are compliant with local, state, and federal regulations and defend them in all types of litigation. We are on top of ongoing changes in education so you can feel confident you are receiving the most effective and informed guidance for your legal issue. Call us at 484-318-7106 or contact us online for an initial consultation. Located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, we represent clients throughout Philadelphia and Chester County.