Charter Schools Office recommends nonrenewal for Eastern University Charter

The Charter Schools Office has recommended that another charter not be renewed, citing academic and operational issues.

Eastern University Charter School in East Falls did not meet academic standards in either its middle or high school, according to  the charter office’s  metrics, although its graduation rate is relatively high.  Test scores on both the PSSA and Keystone exams were almost uniformly low. 

 “The Charter School approached the standard for graduation by having a graduation rate that exceeded two of three comparison groups in all three years of the charter term for which data is available but having the actual graduation rate itself decline over the course of the charter term,” the charter office report said.

Also, its reported attendance in grades seven and eight plummeted in 2015 and 2016, according to the report, with only 15 and 16 percent of students attending school more than 95 percent of the time. High school attendance also went down those two years, although not as dramatically.

The school, with about 330 students in grades 7 through 12, opened in 2009 and students are able to take courses at Eastern University and Community College of Philadelphia.  

The report also cited some operational and financial issues, including noncompliant policies for special education and English learners, as well as concerns regarding “student health services, school safety practices, teacher certification, employee checks and clearances, and untimely submission of annual reports.”

Principal Owen Barlow told the Inquirer: “I just don’t see how you justify closing a school when our college acceptance rate is better than some of our peer schools, and when we have a great college matriculation rate.”

Charter schools can appeal nonrenewal recommendations to the state, and the process for shutting them down can take years.