New Hope Academy and York City School District are squabbling over whether New Hope is still legally allowed to operate.
According to York City School District Superintendent Deborah Wortham, New Hope Academy's deadline to file an appeal of its non-renewal of its charter has passed. The charter is no longer valid, and students should be preparing to make an imminent return to city schools.
According to New Hope, York City is supplying "inaccurate information" to district staff, and, as a result, to the community, by saying New Hope needs to close.
There is no deadline to file an appeal of a charter non-renewal, said New Hope chief academic officer Karen Schoonover. The school is still open and still intends to educate its students, she said.
The city school board turned down the renewal in July. Wortham said the state charter appeals board has previously determined there is a 30-day deadline to file an appeal from when the adjudication is made, and New Hope missed that deadline last week.
"We respectfully disagree with the statements by New Hope," Wortham said.
Schoonover said even before New Hope got a letter in the past week from York City's legal counsel expressing that opinion, the community was abuzz with rumors - "it's a small town," she said - and parents and students were growing concerned.
"We had to assure them they do not need to take immediate action," Schoonover said.
A letter on New Hope's website for charter renewal, chooseyourschoolyork.com, tells parents York City has no say in the decision over the appeal, that an appeal will be filed and that a decision in the case won't be made until November at the earliest.
No payment?: Schoonover said New Hope confirmed with the state that there is no appeals deadline, since it seemed curious not to have one considering a charter can remain open during the appeals process and therefore possibly drag it out to avoid having to close.
Department of Education spokesman Tim Eller said charter school law "does not reference a specific deadline to file an appeal."
But Eller said the charter appeals board "will review the deadline issue if it is challenged" by York City.
Schoonover said New Hope's appeal should be filed with the state by Monday.
In the meantime, New Hope has had to get its tuition payments straight from the state, she said. In normal procedure, the Department of Education gives tuition funding to the chartering school district, which then gives the charter school its portion.
This summer, though, Schoonover said, York City stopped sending their payment to New Hope. That forced New Hope to get it from the state.
"Without any notice, they stopped paying (New Hope)," Schoonover said.
Wortham said the payment change was not specifically related to the school board's denial of New Hope's charter, and said New Hope is now just taking another avenue available to them by the state to get the funding.
New Hope officials are expected to meet Thursday at noon at the school for a press conference to discuss further plans.
- Reach Andrew Shaw at firstname.lastname@example.org