Philly Charter School Shuts Down

By David Chang
|  Friday, Oct 11, 2013  |  Updated 5:16 PM EDT
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Solomon Charter School leaves families in a lurch, closing its doors abruptly.

NBC10.com - Matt DeLucia

Solomon Charter School leaves families in a lurch, closing its doors abruptly.

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Parents and students at a Philadelphia charter school received a shock Friday morning after the school suddenly shut down.

Officials with the Solomon Charter School, located on 12th and Vine Street, sent a letter to parents telling them that the school would close for the remainder of the 2013-2014 school year.

“The Board spent many hours deliberating about how to keep the school open despite safety concerns and financial instability,” wrote David Weathington, the school’s Acting CEO.

Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq said the school’s Board of Trustees voted to surrender its charter to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

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Last March, Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis filed charges to revoke the school’s charter, citing “significant and severe violations of the Pennsylvania Public Safety Code.”

"Solomon officials have consistently demonstrated their inability to adhere to the school's governing charter and operate within the confines of the Charter School Law," Tomalis said.  "The Public School Code is explicit - cyber charter schools are to offer a significant portion of their curriculum through the Internet or other electronic means.''

The Department of Education accused the charter school of improperly using its Vine Street location to provide instruction and other education services that cyber schools are not allowed to provide under the Charter School Law. School officials have denied these allegations however.

According to officials, a cyber-charter school is defined as an independent public school established and operated under a charter from the Department of Education that “uses technology to provide curriculum and instruction to students through the Internet or other electronic means.”

“Cyber charter schools that make use of physical facilities for supplemental programs and services must provide equitable access to those programs and services for all students enrolled in the school regardless of where the students live in the state,” wrote a Department of Education spokesman in a written release.

In their letter to parents, Solomon Charter officials informed them they would be able to pick up their child’s records between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. starting Monday.

Many parents say they received no advanced notice of the closing and only learned about it Friday morning.

“When they told me they were closing down, the only thing I could think was what I was going to do with my son,” said Deyanna Bowen.

Parents say they are currently trying to get their children into another school. The Department of Education is also working with the school’s officials and Philadelphia school district officials to help families make the transition.

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