Del Val Charter to close; staff may not be paid for June

Delaware Valley Charter High School is closing this month.

Another Philadelphia charter school is closing this month amid allegations of financial and academic problems.

Delaware Valley Charter High School in Logan, which lost its bid before the state Charter Appeal Board to remain open, has decided to close this month rather than take its case to Commonwealth Court. The move leaves 450 students looking for new schools for the fall.

Charter officials also say the school may not have enough money to pay 70 staffers for their work in June.

Acting Delaware Valley CEO Harold Kurtz said Philadelphia School District officials maintain the charter owes so much money for pension payments and other funds that the district is withholding the school’s charter payment for June.

Uri Monson, the district’s chief financial officer, said Delaware Valley owes the district more than $700,000, including overpayments for tuition in prior years, which is more than Delaware Valley’s charter payment of $470,790 for June.

In an email to the state Department of Education, Monson wrote that in light of  “the history of the failure of closed charter schools to repay monies” owed, the district withheld the June payment.

Kurtz decried the district’s decision to withhold the monthly funding, calling it the final indignity.

He said Delaware Valley is appealing to the state to obtain the money, but noted that Monson’s email asked the department to decline the appeal.

Kurtz said the charter school had been trying to make the end of the current academic year as normal for students as possible. Graduation was scheduled for Thursday for 135 seniors, and the school year will continue until Wednesday for ninth through 11th graders.

District spokesman Kevin Geary said the district wanted “to support students and families during the challenging time of this school’s closing.”

He said Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. sent a letter to Delaware Valley parents on May 25 saying that the district would help them find new schools. An information session for parents was scheduled for Wednesday at Martin Luther King High School.

The state Charter Appeal Board voted unanimously last month to uphold a School Reform Commission decision to not renew the school’s charter due to fiscal problems and poor academic performance. Among other things, the board’s 42-page decision said Delaware Valley had ended four fiscal years with negative fund balances of more than $400,000 to $700,000 per year, and had failed to make numerous payments to the state teachers’ retirement system.

When a charter school fails to make pension payments, the money is deducted from funds the district receives from the state. The district then recovers the money by withholding the amount from charter payments.