Maria Philapena and Bev Awkward said they had a difficult decision to make Wednesday.

They could attend the York City School District town hall meeting for parents of New Hope Academy Charter School students held at 6:30 p.m. at Hannah Penn K-8 School, or go to New Hope's parent rally at its facility across town.

"A group of us New Hope parents decided to split up," Philapena said. "Some of us came to this meeting and some went to the rally. We'll get together later to talk about what we experienced."

Philapena and Awkward, both attended the meeting at Hannah Penn led by city school district superintendent Eric Holmes.

He discussed how New Hope Academy students could transition into the district's schools early next year, as the academy was ordered by the state's charter school board on Oct. 15 to close on Jan. 15.

New Hope plans to file for an immediate stay of that order and to appeal the board's decision to Commonwealth Court.

During Wednesday's meeting, Philapena and Awkward asked Holmes why the district scheduled the meeting about the same time as the New Hope rally.

Holmes replied that he picked the meeting date and did not know about the rally and has never seen New Hope's calendar of events in his life.

"We set dates and spaced them out so parents would have the time to (attend events)," Holmes said. "We shared that with New Hope, and here we are."

Transition plan: Before hearing from parents, Holmes reviewed the district's transition plan for students. The district would reopen Hannah Penn K-8 School in January to accommodate New Hope students in grades 5-8.

Students in grades 9-12 would attend William Penn Senior High School.

Holmes said he knows that not all of New Hope's 800-plus students will attend district schools. The district is expecting to serve between 500 and 600 students from New Hope, he said.

The district would provide bus transition to New Hope students in grades 5-8 who live in the Devers or Ferguson attendance zones, he said.

The district also is developing a cyber option that would provide students with a computer to use to do school work at home, Holmes said.

The superintendent also said the district will hire extra staff to serve the incoming students, including qualified New Hope teachers and art, music and physical education teachers and a librarian.

Hannah Penn will remain a 5-8 school for New Hope students just through the end of this school year. Then it would accommodate students from throughout the district, Holmes said.

After the meeting, both Philapena and Awkward, both city residents, said neither they nor their children want to return to the York City School District if New Hope Academy closes.

"They'd be coming back to a district that failed them," said Philapena, a city resident. "They're afraid to go back. This is about safety and academics. Our children are excelling at New Hope and they should be allowed to stay."

Philapena said she has three children in grades 7, 11 and 12 at New Hope, while Awkward has a son in the eighth grade.

"I'm still reeling from this whole situation," Awkward said. "I wasn't satisfied with what I've heard from this meeting. I don't want my son in this district."

Nina Dickey, also a city resident, said her daughter, Sebria Dickey, is a seventh-grade student at New Hope. Dickey said her daughter is upset about the state's decision and about having to change schools in the middle of an academic year.

Dickey said her daughter transferred to New Hope after completing fourth grade at the district's Goode Elementary School. Dickey said she hopes the state grants New Hope a stay to prevent the Jan. 15 closure.

"If they don't, I'm moving out of the district," Dickey said. "My daughter is not going to school here, not in this district."

Next meetings: York City School District's transition schedule for New Hope students and parents:

* Town hall meeting 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, in the William Penn Senior High School auditorium at 101 W. College Ave.

* Open house/orientation at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12, at Hannah Penn K-8, 415 E. Boundary Ave.

* Open house/orientation at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 19, at William Penn Senior High School.

- Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at emcmillan@yorkdispatch.com.