This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
The winding saga of Kenderton Elementary School in North Philadelphia has taken another turn, with indications that the Renaissance charter school will return to District control.
A School Reform Commission resolution published Wednesday moves to “establish Kenderton School as a District-operated neighborhood school” in time for the next school year. If passed at the SRC’s June 16 meeting, the resolution would remove Kenderton from charter control.
The resolution is merely in place so that the SRC can act on the matter if it chooses to do so on June 16, according to the Philadelphia School District.
"If the Kenderton board decides to surrender their charter, the School District of Philadelphia is ready to immediately move forward with a plan and a transition team to ensure Kenderton Elementary opens ready to succeed for the 2016-2017 school year,” according to a statement from District spokesman Fernando Gallard.
Several parents, however, believe the District already has plans to reassert control over Kenderton, dashing their hopes that it will remain a charter school.
“I’m saddened. I’m very angry,” said Shereda Cromwell, a parent of three Kenderton students and the president of the School Advisory Council. “This school going back to a District school — it’s not an option. It was a District school. It was a low-performing District school. … That’s why they put it in the turnaround process to begin with.
"We’re a charter school, and a lot of the parents feel it should remain a charter school.”
Young Scholars bailing out
The current turmoil at Kenderton dates back a month. In early May, Kenderton’s charter operator, Young Scholars, abruptly announced that it could no longer run the school due to financial troubles. Kenderton is a hub for students receiving services for autism and emotional support. Young Scholars said the cost of educating the school’s high special-education population had grown prohibitive.
Parents soon turned to the Mastery Charter network, which previously took over another distressed Young Scholars school. Mastery proposed turning Kenderton, a K-8 school, into a K-6 school. Under the plan, Kenderton’s 7th and 8th graders would attend a nearby middle school run by Mastery.
Kenderton’s School Advisory Council voted 12-1 in favor the Mastery proposal. Kenderton’s board also approved.
Because Mastery wants to change Kenderton’s grade configuration, the arrangement requires the approval of Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission. That approval, however, does not appear to be forthcoming.