New Hope Academy's charter renewal appeal has "no end in sight," according to its CEO.
Isiah Anderson said he's frustrated his fifth- through 12th-grade school still doesn't know if it will get its charter renewed nearly a year after the York City school district denied New Hope's five-year renewal, leaving the school in turmoil.
The state Charter Appeals Board has had the case since October. Various motions have held up the process. The two sides recently supplied additional supporting documents for the record, and now wait for a schedule to be set for the hearing, according to Department of Education spokesman Tim Eller.
Most recently, the school district's motion to quash the appeal was denied by the appeals board.
"We don't anticipate hearing anything going into next school year," said Anderson, who founded the school.
New Hope had its graduation Wednesday night, perhaps for the last time if New Hope's appeal is turned down. Anderson acknowledged the uncertainty has taken a toll, with some teachers and students going elsewhere, especially early on after the district turned down the renewal.
New Hope has lost leadership, too, as chief academic officer Karen Schoonover resigned in May for undisclosed reasons, according to the school solicitor.
The impact: But, Anderson said, he is confident New Hope continues to appeal to parents who have lost faith in the city school district.
"Parents are calling because of the instability of the district," he said. "We're not concerned about enrollment. We are concerned about the uncertainty. We're concerned that here's something that can be resolved, and it hasn't been."
Anderson said he's hoping to enroll about 750 students next year, up from 720 this year. New Hope will have a better idea of its enrollment numbers
later this summer, he said.
The biggest impact of the ongoing legal battle has been on morale, Anderson said.
"We have this culture of fighting, this culture of uncertainty in the community. Enough is enough already," he said. "In one breath, you can't communicate to the community that children are our priority, and education is our priority, and you're distracted by legal battles. I don't understand that."
Still, he added, he has no plans on quitting or slowing down. New Hope's graduation is at 95 percent, with 85 percent going to college, he said, indications the school is doing something right.
"We're still pretty confident we're going to win this case," Anderson said.
He pointed at the district for the case to be resolved, saying it should be "coming to the table and settling any of these issues."
School board: York City School Board President Margie Orr took exception to that, saying New Hope is the one who slowed things down.
"They are the ones who initially drug their feet on it," Orr said.
New Hope had filed its appeal on Oct. 1, 2012, 46 days after York City's decision was handed down.
Orr said she thinks New Hope's uncertain future "certainly will be a benefit" to city schools by attracting back teachers and students, especially since York City has a state-mandated financial recovery plan in the works that would add new features and programs to the district.
-- Reach Andrew Shaw at firstname.lastname@example.org