A letter-writing feud is brewing between the York City School District and the New Hope Academy Charter School, which has been ordered by the state to close by Jan. 15.
The state's charter school appeals board voted unanimously Oct. 15 to deny New Hope's appeal of the district's decision not to renew New Hope's charter.
The school will have 30 days from the release of the written decision to appeal the board's decision to Commonwealth Court. School officials have said they plan to do so.
In a letter to York City Superintendent Eric Holmes dated Oct. 28, Stephen Mitchell, president of New Hope's board of trustees, urges Holmes "to refrain from any public comments or meetings that aggravate this situation."
"Until the legal process is resolved, you should not mislead anyone about any changes in the enrollment of New Hope students," Mitchell wrote. "Our Board of Trustees has authorized counsel to file for an immediate stay of the October 15, 2013 decision. We are very concerned about the potential harm that this transition will cause our students, particularly our senior class and special education students."
The letter was forwarded to The York Dispatch by Gavin Advertising, which is providing public-relations services to New Hope.
Holmes has said the district must prepare for a potential influx of hundreds of New Hope students into the district early next year.
The district has scheduled two meetings to share information about the potential transition with New Hope families.
Gavin Advertising also shared a letter from Holmes dated Oct. 19 that was sent to the parents of New Hope students.
In that letter, Holmes said district officials anticipate many New Hope students will be returning to the district.
"The district recognizes New Hope Academy's right to appeal the decision to close and we also recognize their right to request that the closure date be delayed to the end of the 2014 school year," Holmes wrote. "We also acknowledge our responsibility as a district to prepare for the possible return of your children and to create classes and programs that address their needs."
Holmes goes on to say the district has a plan "that will transition your children back to the district while limiting the disruption in their day to day educational experience." The letter outlines some new district goals and programs, such as the Cornerstone program, "which provides intensive short term academic interventions in math and reading."
Holmes' letter also outlines the district's transition plan. For example, the district would reopen Hannah Penn Middle School in January to accommodate students from New Hope. Students in grades 9-12 would attend William Penn Senior High School.
The district would provide bus transportation to New Hope students in grades 5-8 who live in the Devers or Ferguson attendance zones, according to Holmes' letter.
According to the letter, the district is also developing a "cyber option that would provide students with a computer to use in order to work from home."
Students who choose the cyber option would have access to a computer lab at the high school and assistance from a teacher. Seniors in the cyber program would graduate with a diploma from the district, according to the letter.
The district's first informational meeting for families of New Hope students in grades 5-8 is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the auditorium at Hannah Penn, 415 E. Boundary Ave.
Families of New Hope students in grades 9-12 are invited to a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7 in the auditorium at William Penn, 101 W. College Ave.
"I want you to know that I will do everything in my power to make this transition a positive experience for your child," Holmes wrote. "On behalf of the students and staff of the School District of the City of York, I welcome you and your children back to the District."
Holmes did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
- Reach Erin James at email@example.com.