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New Media Charter School will close in June

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

New Media Technology Charter School is informing parents that it will cease operating in June, at the end of this school year. With nearly 500 students, the grade 6-12 school, located in Cedarbrook, has been facing nonrenewal of its charter from the School District due to poor academics and financial irregularities.

At a meeting earlier this month, New Media’s board of trustees voted to close the school rather than fight to stay open. A letter to parents posted on its website offers information on how to apply to other schools and participate in a transition plan worked out with the School District. The deadline for getting help through the transition plan is April 15.

The school’s former executive director and its board chair were sentenced in 2012 t0 prison terms for defrauding the school of more than $500,000 and diverting the funds to failed enterprises, including a restaurant, a private school and an Internet company. Both Ina Walker and Hugh C. Clark pleaded guilty to 28 federal charges. During the period of the fraud, the school did not withhold taxes or make pension payments and sometimes bounced employee paychecks.

The school was put under new management, but continued to struggle with low test scores and poor fiscal management. The School District’s charter office first recommended nonrenewal in 2014, citing failure to meet academic goals, improper admissions policies, and inconsistent student discipline practices, among other issues.

Three charters are currently facing nonrenewal: Imani, Delaware Valley, and Universal-Bluford, which is a Renaissance charter conversion. Other charters that have closed recently include Hope, Arise, Walter D. Palmer, and Truebright.

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