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The final blow? District cuts ties with disciplinary school in East Falls

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

by Benjamin Herold
for NewsWorks, a Notebook news partner

The School District of Philadelphia has decided to sever ties with troubled Delaware Valley High School, a for-profit provider of alternative education programs that serves roughly 500 students at two sites in the city.

DVHS ran a disciplinary school in East Falls and an accelerated program for high-school dropouts in Southwest Philadelphia.

"We’ve communicated to DVHS that due to business reasons, the District decided not to enter into a new contract with them," said District spokesperson Fernando Gallard.

Teachers and administrators were scheduled to return Thursday morning to the two sites. An attorney for DVHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last month, 50 DVHS teachers and administrative staffers received layoff notices. Many have complained that David T. Shulick, DVHS chief executive officer, owes them thousands of dollars in back pay for work done last school year. Multiple lawsuits against Shulick to recover back pay are pending.

Shulick and DVHS are also involved in an ongoing federal investigation that also reportedly targets Chaka "Chip" Fattah, Jr., the son of Philadelphia U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah. The younger Fattah has done consulting work for DVHS. A federal grand jury has subpoenaed DVHS’ records, and investigators are reportedly looking into whether political influence was wielded to help DVHS obtain multi-million dollar contracts from the district.

Gallard said that he did not know if DVHS students and parents had been notified of the district’s decision. Nor was there any immediate word on where those students would be reassigned.

"We are putting together a transition program for students that were attending the school," said Gallard. "We’re going to be looking at other providers in [the District’s alternative education] network to take on these seats."

In April, the School Reform Commission authorized the district to negotiate one-year extensions with all of its alternative education providers. But Gallard said that resolution did not require the District to enter into new contracts with all of its former providers.

"As of last week, we were still in conversation with all of the providers," said Gallard, who could not say if any agreements have yet been struck.

The decision to sever ties with DVHS was made Tuesday, he said.

This article was a joint reporting project of WHYY/NewsWorks and the Philadelphia Public School Notebook.

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