Giving Compass' Take:
- Johann Calhoun discusses the heightened scrutiny facing Black-led charter schools in Philadelphia, which are being disproportionately targeted for closure.
- How can donors help advocate for charter schools serving marginalized students?
- Learn about the importance of Black leadership in schools.
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More than a month ago, the African American Charter Schools Coalition accused the School District of Philadelphia of discriminating against Black-led charter schools by targeting them for closure at a disproportionate rate.
Now the coalition is pointing to the treatment of one charter high school as the latest in what they say is a pattern of discrimination by the district’s Charter Schools Office.
District officials renewed all charter schools this year, but attached a “surrender clause” to the renewal for Universal Audenried Promise Neighborhood Partnership Charter School, a predominantly Black school in South Philadelphia. The provision gives a charter school the opportunity to improve rather than face non-renewal for being out of compliance with their charter agreement, officials said. But the school typically has to agree to close, without going through the state’s appeals process, if it doesn’t improve.
In a statement to Chalkbeat, the Charter Schools Office said the provision creates a “path forward for the charter school.”
But the coalition, and other charter supporters, say the “surrender clause” would allow the district to close Universal Audenried without appeal — and they questioned why it was the only school to receive such a provision this year.
“When a surrender clause is a condition of renewal, the school district violates the law and subjects the charter school to its findings without the due process of appeal,” said Penny Nixon, superintendent and CEO of Universal Schools. “The Board of Directors of Universal Schools will not agree to a charter renewal agreement containing a surrender clause for Universal Audenried or any of the Universal Family of Schools.”
Nixon said Universal Schools plans to seek legal counsel on the provision.
Jeanne Allen, founder and CEO of the national charter advocacy organization Center for Education Reform, said the clause is a “poison pill in the renewal process, which in effect gives districts the upper hand to close a charter regardless of its quality, facts or demand.”
Read the full article about Philadelphia Black-led charter schools by Johann Calhoun at Chalkbeat Philadelphia.