This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court delivered a ruling this week that gives traditional public school districts more power to limit charter school growth.
The case involved Discovery Charter School in Philadelphia, which sought during 2013 charter renewal negotiations to amend its agreement with the School District to increase its enrollment by 70 percent.
The District recommended renewal, but the School Reform Commission, citing budget concerns, declined to vote on anything that increased the charter’s enrollment.
Left in limbo, Discovery took this as a rejection and filed an appeal to a state board.
So the essential question in the case was this: Does the state Charter Appeals Board (CAB) have jurisdiction when a charter seeks to amend its deal with a district, but is then left in limbo without a vote?
This week, the Supreme Court said no, ruling that the lower court’s decision didn’t have backing in the state’s charter school law.
"It sets a precedent now, statewide, for any charter school that wants to amend its charter to either increase enrollment or relocate. A school district now has a loophole where they can ignore the request for an amendment to the charter, and the charter has no recourse," said Tim Eller, executive director of the Keystone Alliance for Public Charter Schools.