The School District of Philadelphia has little chance of recovering more than one million dollars in court-ordered refunds from the Walter D. Palmer Learning Partners Charter School following its Dec. 31 closure, a district spokesman said this week.
“If an organization has no funds, you can’t get any money from them,” said Fernando Gallard, the district’s chief of communications. “The chances are poor for getting any sort of money from them.”
Former employees, who lost health care benefits in November, have been left in the dark about when they would receive their last paycheck. Some of them turned out at school district offices this week looking for answers.
There were few.
Gallard referred questions for further comment to the school’s namesake founder, saying the partnership charged with operating the school was responsible for separation costs relating to layoffs and other outstanding obligations.
Palmer did not immediately respond to request for comment on Tuesday.
Previously he told KYW Radio, “We intend to meet every obligation that we can.”
Palmer plans to sell assets to pay off its financial obligations but complicating matters is the fact that schools at 910 N. Sixth Street and 5560 Harbison Ave., were housed in buildings that are owned by a business partnership.
More than 250 former Palmer charter school students have transferred to new schools, and district officials say they remain ready to help any other families transition to new schools, according to Gallard.
The Palmer charter school is described on its website as a Title I school, a federal funding category, that provides instruction and activities for students considered most likely to drop out or failing to achieve proficiency in standardized tests in reading, writing and math.
Veronica Joyner, chief administrator of the Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter School, applauded Palmer for undertaking the opening and running of a charter school but said her counterpart ran into trouble when he admitted more students than allowed in the charter.
She believed he could have stayed afloat if he limited enrollment to 675 students. She said Palmer and the district shared responsibility for not working to document and improve performance issues after realizing student test scores missed key targets.
“If people were overseeing step by step, this never would have happened,” Joyner said. “Students are the ones who are suffering the consequences.”