Charter school advocates allege bias by Philadelphia School Board

TaRhonda Thomas Image
Friday, June 24, 2022
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The board says the schools didn't meet the standards, but the schools' leaders disagree, saying that the board continuously changes the standards.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As a consultant for the African-American Charter School Coalition, Dawn Chavous keeps track of a lot of statistics in regard to charter schools.

"Most charter schools serve predominately African American children," she said.

But there's another more troubling statistic when it comes to charter schools that are founded and led by African Americans.

"African American founded and led charter schools, making up only 19% of the charter school sector, but representing over 87% of school closures over the last 10 or 11 years. That's a really scary statistic," said Chavous.

Three more charter schools--two of them Black-led-- may be closing in Philadelphia.

On Thursday night, just after a protest led by charter school advocates, members of the Philadelphia School Board unanimously voted to have Memphis Street Academy in Port Richmond surrender its charter and to not renew the charters of Laboratory Charter school in Hunting Park and Southwest Leadership Academy in Southwest Philadelphia, which are Black-lead.

The board says the schools didn't meet the standards, but the schools' leaders disagree, saying that the board continuously changes the standards.

"Southwest Leadership is working towards meeting all of the standards that we have set for ourselves so the standards that we set for ourselves are much higher," said Leigh Purnell, principal of Southwest Leadership Academy Charter School.

If the schools do lose their charters, they could close by the 2023-24 school year.