Schools looses charter

Young Scholars Kenderton Charter School, located in North Philadelphia, surrendered its charter this month. The school’s charter management organization, Scholar Academies, publicly announced they were pulling out of its ties with the school for the 20106-17 school year. — submitted photo

Young Scholars Kenderton Charter School has announced it is surrendering its charter to the School District of Philadelphia, after its charter management organization announced the firm would not serve as operator of the school for the 2016-17 school year.

The North Philadelphia school educates 541 K-8 grade students. Approximately 91 percent of its students are African-American, 82 percent are poverty-stricken and 20 percent of its population utilize special education services. Its charter from Scholar Academies was supposed to run through 2018.

Kenderton Board Chair Wayne B. Weisman said in an email to The Tribune that the school faces significant financial challenges due to a culmination of things, including the school’s rising special education costs.

According to the school’s Annual Charter Evaluation for 2015, Kenderton owed $4,984 to a related party and borrowed $400,000 at the end of fiscal year 2015.

“So we concluded that Scholar Academies could no longer operate the school beyond this school year,” Weisman said. “The Kenderton Board issued an (Request For Proposal) for a new operator and with the support of the School Advisory Council, selected Mastery Charter Schools.”

Weisman continued, “Unfortunately, the District and the (School Reform Commission) were unwilling to take the action necessary to advance Mastery’s proposal, which was strongly favored by parents and community members of the (School Advisory Council). As a result, the Kenderton Board officially surrendered the charter effective June 30, and the school will return to District control. We will continue to work with the District on a smooth transition for students and families.”

Fernando Gallard, the District’s chief of communications, said he had not seen any correspondence from Scholar Academies to Kenderton that laid out specific reasons as to why they decided to no longer oversee the school located at 1500 W. Ontario St.

However, the District said that although the school’s Board of Trustees issued a RFP and worked to find a new charter operator, the school was unable to acquire one that met Renaissance Initiative standards and would be capable of taking over in the fall. The District does provide a comprehensive plan for Kenderton outlining what will happen next year.

The strategy includes keeping Kenderton together as a K-8 school, investing in improvements to learning conditions and IT, administering a transmission team, prioritizing the search for a principal, focusing on teacher hiring and and an extended school year for qualifying students receiving special education services.

“The goal for Kenderton Elementary remains unchanged — to give children the best education possible,” said District Assistant Superintendent John Tupponce, who is also leading the school’s transition team. “The School District of Philadelphia is ready with a comprehensive plan to ensure that Kenderton Elementary opens ready for students to succeed in the 2016-17 school year.”

The District plans to host a community meeting on Monday. Kenderton, which opened in 2013, is a Renaissance school because of its under performance and failure to meet adequate yearly progress as defined by state and federal laws.

“There will be a coordinated effort to ensure strong student supports, full school staffing, tailored academic program design, and family and community involvement to safeguard that Kenderton never returns to its pre-Rennaissance conditions,” Tupponce said.

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