Harrisburg – The Board of Trustees of Philadelphia-based Solomon Charter School today voted to surrender its charter to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, said Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn C. Dumaresq.
In March, the department filed a Notice of Charges against Solomon seeking to revoke the school’s charter as a result of significant violations of the state’s Public School Code and provisions of the school’s charter.
In filing, the department alleged that the charter school improperly used its Vine Street location to provide instruction and other educational services that cyber schools are not authorized to provide under the Charter School Law. The school denied those charges.
A hearing was scheduled for November; however, today’s board action brings these proceedings to an end.
Earlier this year, the department issued guidance to current and prospective cyber charter school operators to explain the requirements of operating a cyber charter school in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania’s Charter School Law separates charter schools into three categories: charter schools, regional charter schools and cyber charter schools.
Charter schools and regional charter schools are authorized to operate through charters granted by a local school district’s board of school directors. Commonly referred to as “brick-and-mortar” charter schools, these schools focus on teacher-centered instruction, including teacher-led discussion and face-to-face interaction at the school’s facilities.
In contrast, cyber charter schools are authorized by the Department of Education to offer a structured education program in which content and instruction are delivered via the Internet without the requirement for a student to attend a physical facility, except on a very limited basis.
Specifically, the Public School Code defines a cyber charter school 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.
“As the entity that approves cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania, the Department of Education takes its oversight role seriously to ensure that current and prospective cyber charter schools operate within the confines of the Charter School Law and the school’s charter,” Dumaresq said. “It is critical that all Pennsylvania students, regardless of where they live in the state and who chose to enroll in a cyber charter school, have equal access to the services and programs offered by the school.”
The department is working with the school’s officials and officials from the School District of Philadelphia to help families transition their children, who were enrolled in Solomon, to other schools.
A listing of public schools, including brick-and-mortar and cyber charter schools, as well as nonpublic and private schools can be accessed by visiting the department’s website at www.education.state.pa.us and clicking on “Find an Institution.”
Media contact: Tim Eller, 717-783-9802