School board votes to close Career Connections school

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The Pittsburgh school board voted unanimously last night to shut down the Career Connections Charter Middle School in Lawrenceville, saying it has put students and staff in danger by holding classes in an unsuitable building.

The board voted to revoke the school's charter immediately.

Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Mark Roosevelt said his staff would begin calling parents of Career Connections middle-school students today to make arrangements to get the children enrolled in other schools by Monday.

The charter school, which opened Sept. 7, has 76 students. At least 60 live in Pittsburgh.

The vote was the latest twist in a contentious relationship between the school district and the school, operated by the Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania. The club also operates the 8-year-old Career Connections High School, which was not affected by last night's vote.

The board rejected the charter school's initial application and declined to act on the school's revised application. The school won an appeal to the state Charter School Appeal Board. The school district appealed that decision to Commonwealth Court; the case is pending.

Career Connections planned to operate the school in the Catalyst Building at 141 41st St. Because it hadn't obtained an occupancy permit, Career Connections initially taught middle school students in the high school at 4412 Butler St., and then moved them to the Boys & Girls Club at 5432 Butler St.

The school district said that building doesn't have classrooms, a cafeteria or other school features and doesn't restrict public access the way school buildings do.

"I don't think they left us any choice here," Mr. Roosevelt said of Career Connections officials.

Terri Henderson, chief executive officer of the Career Connections schools, said the school was well run and had a waiting list. She said she didn't see how the school district could revoke a charter granted by the state.

Contact Joe Smydo at 412-263-1548.


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