Philly school board turns down charter's application to merge schools

Mike DeNardo
June 14, 2019 - 1:07 pm
The future is unclear for students at the Charter High School for Architecture and Design.

Mike DeNardo/KYW Newsradio


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Philadelphia School Board Thursday said "no" to a charter operator seeking to merge its schools under a new state law.

The board voted 9-0 to reject Freire Charter Schools' application to become a Multiple Charter School Organization. Freire operates two Philadelphia schools, and it was seeking to be the first to take advantage of a 2017 state provision allowing charters to run the schools under a single board. There are currently no MCSOs in Pennsylvania.  

Activists opposed Freire's application, concerned it would take authority away from the school board. 

Related: Philly charter school agrees to close after next year; what happens beyond that unclear

"The MCSO, or Multiple Charter School Organization, concept is simply a further attempt to evade oversight and accountability by the board," said Lynda Rubin, a member of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools.

Attorney and retired educator Rich Migliore said, "This scenario will make it impossible for this board to hold those schools accountable to you or the public."

Freire operations director Max Matthews in a statement to KYW Newsradio said Freire was not trying to avoid accountability, and a main purpose behind its application was to make it easier for students who graduate from its middle school to attend Tech Freire High School.

School Board member Chris McGinley was leery of the concept.

"I have great concerns with this approach to separating out groups of schools from the authority of the appointed school board," he said.

School Board Chair Joyce Wilkerson said there wasn't much guidance in the state law as to how any combined charter organizations should be handled.

"This is something still very new in Pennsylvania, and we need to remain vigilant about how it's implemented."