This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Several Philadelphia charter schools signaled their displeasure with the district’s charter office by declining to sign renewal agreements before a Friday deadline, instead holding out for better terms.
The refusals highlight simmering tension between charters and the school district over how these publicly financed — but privately run — schools should be governed.
Several charter leaders and advocates said the school district wants them to sign agreements that overregulate and overburden their sector, sapping them of the flexibility to make needed reforms.
"We want to be accountable," said David Hardy, CEO of Boys’ Latin of Philadelphia Charter School, one of those that has not signed its charter agreement. "But what they’re doing is beyond accountability. It’s almost dictatorial."
"They try to treat us like children," Hardy added.
Others, however, praise the charter office for taking a more thorough approach to charter reauthorization and approval, arguing it helps root out bad actors.
"Nobody likes to be told what to do, but this is public money, and it requires public oversight," said Temple Law professor Susan DeJarnatt.
The school district set a 1 p.m. Friday deadline for 21 Philadelphia charter schools to sign five-year renewal agreements. The agreements are a standard part of the charter school landscape, laying out how charters must behave and what benchmarks they must meet to continue operating in Philadelphia.
Note: The list of 12 charter resolutions scheduled for Monday is here.