Philly Charter School Cancels High School

A financially troubled Philadelphia charter school abruptly canceled high school, leaving nearly 300 students looking for a new school.

The Walter D. Palmer Leadership Partners Charter School began notifying students and their families on Friday that the high school might shut down.

On Sunday night, school administrators announced that the school wouldn't open.

Charter school founder Dr. Walter Palmer testified Monday that the high school was out of money.

The high school's closing comes as the School District of Philadelphia fights to revoke its charter amid concerns about academic performance and financial stability.

West Philadelphia High School may be able to accommodate the 286 seniors, according to Maura Pennington, a spokeswoman for the charter school, which is located in the Frankford neighborhood.

At a meeting at the closed school Monday night parents confronted Palmer about the closure.

For families who want to pursue other options, representatives from other charter schools as well as the Archdiocese of Philadelphia were available at the meeting at the Walter D. Palmer campus, located at 910 North 6th Street.

The charter school's financial problems escalated this fall because the school overspent and over enrolled, according to Fernando Gallard, a spokesman for the Philadelphia school district, which is in the process of trying to revoke the school's charter.

"The school is not advancing the students, in regards to their education and they're in an extreme financial situation," Gallard said on Oct. 16, when Palmer held a lottery to decide which students would be allowed to stay at the school.

Palmer had more than 1,200 students enrolled when doors opened this school year. A court recently found the school violated its charter, which caps enrollment at 675. The school's other grades — kindergarten through 8th grade — will remain open.

When questioned about downsizing earlier this month, founder said 85 Philadelphia public schools performed at a lower level than Palmer and the issue, as he saw it, was more about school choice — that parents did not want their kids to leave Palmer.

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