This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Update: The School District announced Wednesday afternoon that the hearing on nonrenewal of Universal Bluford Academy will be rescheduled for October. A date has not been set.
A nonrenewal hearing will be held this week for one of the city’s first schools to be "Renaissanced" under the District’s turnaround model that converts neighborhood schools to charters.
On Sept. 17 and 18, the School Reform Commission will conduct a public hearing on the District’s recommendation to begin nonrenewal proceedings for Universal Bluford Charter School, a K-6 school in West Philadelphia. Last year, the school enrolled 600 students.
In May, the SRC voted 4-1 against renewing the school’s five-year charter, triggering the charter nonrenewal-and-revocation process. The hearing is only the second in a multi-step and potentially long process, which might or might not result in a school’s closing.
The District’s case against Bluford centers on its findings that the school failed to meet performance and growth benchmarks and that some of its operating procedures ran afoul of the terms laid out by the school’s charter.
The "substantial grounds for nonrenewal," cited by the District can be found in a resolution for the SRC meeting on May 11, when the nonrenewal vote took place.
Universal Companies runs seven charter schools in Philadelphia, six of them Renaissance Schools. Universal is a nonprofit founded by Philadelphia music legend Kenny Gamble.
Other schools in the process of nonrenewal and revocation include Delaware Valley Charter High School, Imani Education Circle Charter School, and New Media Technology Charter School.
Bluford was one of seven District schools that were converted to charters as part of former Superintendent Arlene Ackerman’s Renaissance Schools initiative in 2010. A second Universal Renaissance charter from that cohort, Universal Daroff, had its charter renewed last spring.
The hearing will take place both days at 440 N. Broad St. in the auditorium, beginning at 9 a.m.