The Pennsylvania Charter School Appeal Board on Tuesday upheld a Pittsburgh Public Schools decision against renewing the charter of Career Connections Charter High School in Lawrenceville.
The Pittsburgh district said in 2012, when its board voted against renewing the charter, that a review team had found few Career Connections students were participating in legitimate internships, a core part of the school's mission. The district also cited a finding that student performance on standardized tests had worsened.
On Tuesday, acting state education secretary Carolyn Dumaresq, who chairs the State Charter School Appeal Board, recommended the board deny the appeal effective Jan. 24, the end of the school's first term.
"Career Connections violated terms of its charter, made changes to its charter commitments without the school district's approval and failed to meet student performance requirements," Ms. Dumaresq said.
The vote was unanimous.
Career Connections CEO Tim McElhone appeared stunned as he stood in a hallway after the vote.
"We're surprised," he said later in a phone interview. "I don't think the evidence supported Pittsburgh's allegations, and I thought we submitted extensive evidence to refute the allegations they made," said Career Connections CEO Tim McElhone.
The charter school's board will review the written decision before deciding if it will appeal to Commonwealth Court, Mr. McElhone said.
"I would think that we would have grounds, but until we get the details I can't say that definitively," he said.
The high school has about 240 students, about 80 percent of whom live in the city, he said.
Pittsburgh has nine charter schools, including Career Connections, according to Pittsburgh Public Schools. Ebony Pugh, a spokeswoman for the district, said the decision Tuesday confirms the school was not meeting the standards of its agreement.
"It is our responsibility to ensure that charter schools in the City of Pittsburgh are living up to the terms of their charter agreement," she said.
The appeal board also heard arguments for a Propel Schools charter in Hazelwood, after the city school board tied in its vote on the application, and by Duquesne officials against a charter school proposal there.
Karen Langley: email@example.com or 717-787-2141.