At least 10 more hours of testimony are scheduled for York City School Board's pursuit of turning down New Hope Academy's charter renewal.
The board and charter school had their attorneys go at it for nearly four hours on Wednesday after doing likewise last week. The board believes New Hope, a secondary charter school, hasn't lived up to its charter obligations by failing to meet academic goals and improperly enrolling students, among other issues.
Wednesday's proceedings, held at William Penn Senior High School, featured testimony by Arnaldo Torres Sr., Samuel Sutton, Michael Clemens and Karen Schoonover.
The board also decided to hold another hearing at 6 p.m. Thursday, followed by meetings at the same time on March 6 and 8.
Once the hearings are concluded and a 30-day period has elapsed, the board will vote on whether to give New Hope a five-year renewal.
Testimony: Torres is the district's attendance supervisor. York City's attorney, Allison Peterson, asked Torres a series of questions on how New Hope reported truancy issues to the district, as required by the state.
"Attendance was not being reported to us in a timely manner," Torres said.
In some cases, New Hope didn't notify the district until a student had 10-15 illegal absences; it is supposed to give notification after three illegal absences, he said.
However, New Hope's attorney, Alexis Snyder, had Torres explain that there was a short period when attendance record keeping was so bad by York City schools that the unnamed superintendent told his attendance staff not to pursue truancy violations. The timeline wasn't specified.
Sutton is the chief operating officer for 3Cord Inc., which operates New Hope. Sutton was grilled by Peterson, who had Sutton confirm he makes about $87,000 while only possessing a high school diploma; Sutton said on cross-examination his three decades of experience validate his position.
Peterson also had Sutton confirm that Challenge Academy, an alternative education program also under 3 Cord Inc. and under Sutton's purview, gets most of its students from New Hope.
Clemens has been an administrator at various districts in the area and lately has worked as a consultant for New Hope. In mid-February, he submitted a report to New Hope highlighting areas needing improvement. Administrators told him they want to improve methods for monitoring teachers and professional development, and having the curriculum line up with state standards.
"It was pretty clear ... they needed to gain an academic focus," Clemens said during testimony. "They really had a bead on what they thought was important."
Schoonover, New Hope's chief administrative officer, will resume her testimony Thursday.
Peterson asked Schoonover if she was aware that a school board can deny a charter renewal based on that school's not meeting state academic standards, as New Hope, despite showing improved test scores, hasn't met standards since it opened.
Schoonover responded that academic performance is only one component and that a school board can renew a charter based on other factors.
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