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Philadelphia SRC Approves 5 New Charter Schools, 4 Arrested During Heated Meeting

By Mike DeNardo, Jan Carabeo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — At a raucous meeting that lasted more than five hours, the School Reform Commission Wednesday night voted to deny 34 of 39 applications for new charter schools.

The meeting was frequently disrupted by protesters opposed to new charters, four of which were arrested.

The SRC granted conditional three-year charters to five schools. The schools receiving charters include Independence Charter School West, KIPP Dubois, MaST Community Charter-Roosevelt campus, Mastery Charter Gillespie campus and Tech Freire Charter.

SRC chair Bill Green says there was no effort to appease GOP leaders in the legislature, who pushed the district to approve more charters:

"There was no strategy there. We reviewed each applications on its own terms for merit, and called the balls and strikes that we thought were appropriate."

Some spoke in support:

"Four years my son has attended GLA," says parent Hanna Nunez. "He has received an extraordinary education.

While many others were clearly against, like Commissioner Marjorie Neff who voted against every charter application.

"There were deficiencies in all of them," she said. "Some more deficient than others."

The anti-charter group came out on top with the SRC approving just the five schools.

The district has an $80-million deficit, but Green says the five new charters won't have a deep impact on next year's budget because three of them will be opening in 2016.

Those denied may appeal to a Charter Appeals Board if they choose.

Governor Tom Wolf's Office released the following statement:

"The Wolf Administration continues to believe that the district;s financial situation cannot responsibly handle the approval of new charter schools. Governor Wolf remains committed to restoring cuts and delivering more funding to public schools across the commonwealth to ensure our children have the resources necessary to succeed."

The three women and one man arrested will likely only face fines if their cases go to court.


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