New Hope Academy has taken its fight for survival to a state-level court.
The York City charter school earned a victory last month when the state charter school appeals board postponed its order to close New Hope -- originally set for Jan. 15. -- until the end of the academic year. Unless a court intervenes, New Hope will cease to exist when classes end in June.
In an appeal filed Nov. 26, New Hope's attorneys are asking the Commonwealth Court to order the appeals board to renew New Hope's charter for five years.
If the court declines to do that, the attorneys are asking the court order the appeals board to vacate its order and re-open the case with new hearings.
In the meantime, New Hope wants the court to issue a stay of the appeals board's closure order until the latest appeal is resolved.
The appeals board's order "was based on a defective record," the Nov. 26 appeal contends.
Specifically, New Hope wants the Commonwealth Court to order the appeals board to "correctly apply the law with respect to student performance requirements" and "declare the CAB's findings with respect to the Ethics Act have no bearing on the renewal of a charter."
The appeals board voted unanimously Oct. 15 to close New Hope and later issued a 52-page report explaining that decision. The document is a castigation of charter violations, academic failures and unethical financial practices at New Hope first alleged by the York City School District and now upheld by the state.
New Hope's attorneys argue in the appeal that the appeals board "found that New Hope had materially violated its written charter without the actual charter available for its consideration."
Likewise, the attorneys argue that there is no "explicit requirement" for student performance in the state's charter law.
As for allegations of violations of the Ethics Act, New Hope's attorneys contend that the school's founder, Isiah Anderson, is neither a public official nor a public employee and is therefore not subject to the law.
In its written decision, the appeals board found that, during New Hope's five years in operation, New Hope officials violated the Public Officials and Employees Ethics Law, Nonprofit Corporation Law and the school's own conflict-of-interest policy.
Anderson, who owns several companies with financial ties to New Hope. disputed those accusations in testimony during the district's renewal hearings.