Career Connections charter renewal rejected
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The Pittsburgh Public Schools board has voted not to renew the charter of Career Connections Charter High School in Lawrenceville, but the school will open on Monday as it its appeal goes to the state.
While board members did not comment on their action -- the vote was seven against the charter renewal and Sharene Shealey and Thomas Sumpter abstaining -- the board resolution noted the conclusion of hearing officer James Toohey, who said "the school district has produced substantial evidence of compelling reasons" for not renewing the charter "in the sense that the violations of the terms of its charter and the charter school law are significant, material and fundamental."
Career Connections CEO Tim McElhone, who attended the meeting, afterward released a statement maintaining that 21 of the 23 allegations had "no factual basis" and the other two were not material.
He said the school has more new students signed for this year -- about 90 to 100 compared to 61 last year -- and expects a total of 260 to 265 students. He said that about 96 percent of students who did not graduate are returning.
"There is obviously a strong demand for what our school has to offer," he said in the written statement.
The school opened in 1999 and was started by the Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania. It had sought a renewal for five years.
During the past school year, it had 245 students in grades 9-12, with 84 percent of them from low-income families and 27 percent in special education.
Mr. McElhone contended the only two allegations against the school that were accurate were the daily schedule and the school calendar have been changed from the 1998 proposal. He said the change was made in 2005-06, and the district has renewed the charter since then.
The charter school's proposed findings of fact said the schedule change resulted in more instructional time and improved the efficiency of school bus scheduling.
The school's program includes a career focus. Seniors go to the school two days a week and to internships or to classes at Community College of Allegheny County the other three. Younger students take one career preparation class a day.
In the spring, a district review team concluded the school doesn't meet all of the conditions of its charter, doesn't meet requirements for student performance and doesn't provide expanded choices or serve as a model to other schools in the district.
First Published August 23, 2012 12:00 am