Pittsburgh Public Schools board rejects two charter school proposals, tables third

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The Pittsburgh Public Schools board tonight rejected two applications to open charter schools this fall and tabled a third, effectively denying it because of requirements to act within a certain time window.

The tabled proposal is from Hill House Passport Academy, in a Bedford Avenue building owned by the Hill House, aimed at dropouts in grades 9-12, beginning with 150 students and growing to 180. It would offer a blended program, with in-person classes half of the day and online instruction on laptops the rest of the day.

District reviewers recommended denying the application based on four deficiencies. By tabling the item as suggested by board member Thomas Sumpter, Hill House has the opportunity to resubmit an application or to move on to the State Charter Appeal Board without signatures that would be required by a denial.

Board member Regina Holley said the district hasn't done a good job of reaching out to dropouts, one of the goals of the proposed charter school.

The vote to table was 5-4, with Mr. Sumpter, Ms. Holley, Bill Isler, Mark Brentley Sr. and Sharene Shealey voting in favor.

The board followed the staff recommendation to deny charters to the other two proposals, voting 9-0.

• Computing Workshop Charter School in the workshop's space on Forbes Avenue in Squirrel Hill, aimed at special needs students in grades 5 through 12 and to age 21, beginning with 16 students and growing to 20 students.

• Mount Washington Community Academy Charter School in the building that housed the former St. Mary of the Mount School, later known after a merger as Bishop Leonard St. Mary of the Mount Academy. The charter would be a K-8 school beginning with 256 students and growing to 400.

The motion listed four to nine deficiencies on the applications. All were said to fail to provide "expanded choices in the types of educational opportunities currently being offered" and to fail to demonstrate they could serve as a "model for other schools in the district."

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Education writer Eleanor Chute: echute@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1955.


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