State Reaches Settlement with Lincoln Park Charter School

HARRISBURG – Education Secretary Gerald L. Zahorchak announced that a settlement agreement has been reached with the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School following the department’s investigation into the school’s operations.

“This agreement resolves the department’s concerns, while allowing the charter school to continue enrolling students,” Zahorchak said. “Charter schools can provide solid learning opportunities for our children, so long as they operate with the proper oversight and in accordance with laws that are meant to ensure their educational integrity.”

The charter school’s board is expected to vote on the agreement at a meeting today.

The department’s investigation was prompted by concerns that the Lincoln Park charter school was operating in violation of the 1997 law that allows for the operation of charter schools in the commonwealth. The department’s concerns included questions ranging from the charter school’s billing practices to its curriculum offerings.

Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School was granted its charter by Midland Borough School District in February 2005 and began enrolling students in the 2005-06 school year, even though the charter school was not properly incorporated until June 2006.

Through its investigation, the department found that a portion of Lincoln Park charter school’s operations during the 2006-07 school year were improper because some students enrolled at the charter school actually received some or all of their instruction from teachers in the Midland Borough School District. In addition, some students enrolled at the Lincoln Park charter school from the Midland Borough School District actually received instruction at a high school in the Western Beaver County School District.

The secretary said the agreement adequately resolves concerns about the charter school’s operations.

-Under the settlement, Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School agrees to:
-No longer send its students to the Western Beaver and Midland Borough school districts for their education.
-Return per-pupil payments made by Beaver Area, South Side Area and West Allegheny for the 2005-06 school year.
-Not make any attempt to collect funds from six western Pennsylvania school districts (Aliquippa, Beaver Area, Big Beaver Falls, Rochester, West Allegheny and Western Beaver) that had resident students enrolled in the charter school and educated at Midland in the 2006-07 school year.
-In addition, Midland Borough School District will not receive reimbursement from the commonwealth for Midland resident students who were enrolled at the Lincoln Park charter school in the 2005-06 school year.

Also as part of the settlement, the Beaver Area, South Side and West Allegheny school districts will not receive any reimbursement from the commonwealth for resident students who were enrolled in the Lincoln Park charter school during the 2005-06 school year because the charter school will be returning per-pupil payments made by those districts for that school year.

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