New Castle News

April 9, 2014

Charter school petitions court with signatures

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — The New Castle Arts Academy Charter School has petitioned the Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas for an appeal.

Principals of the charter school planned for downtown New Castle — Debra Rice, Cindy Biddle, Kenneth Cole, Ticia Mangino and Jill Trott — have submitted a petition, reportedly with 610 signatures of district residents, seeking to appeal the New Castle Area School District’s Jan. 13 denial of its application.

The charter school’s attorney, Joshua Pollak of Pittsburgh, filed the paperwork in court March 28.

Judge J. Craig Cox has issued an order setting a hearing date for 11 a.m. May 6 to consider the petition.

Under state charter school law, the denial of an application for a charter may be appealed to the State Charter School Appeal Board. In order to appeal, the applicants first must obtain signatures of at least 2 percent of the residents of the school district or of 1,000 residents, whichever number is less. The petition with those signatures must be filed with and approved by a common pleas judge.

According to the filing, the district has 24,323 residents, and 2 percent of that number is 486.

The charter school organizers plan to locate the school at 305 E. North St., in the vacant building that formerly housed the Day’s Inn hotel.

The petition states the charter school is a domestic, nonprofit corporation.

In its refusal of the charter, the school district adopted a resolution citing reasons for the denial. According to the resolution, the district administrators contend that the plan is lacking:

•Sufficient drawings, sketches or figuration of the facility

•Indication that it will have a research-based curriculum

•Plans for school growth

•A clear schedule of daily instruction

•A financial plan and provisions for auditing

•A staffing plan

•Provisions in its budget if funding levels are not met

•Contingency funds for special needs students

•Money allocations for psychological services.

•An up-to-date professional development plan.

District superintendent John J. Sarandrea brought the petition filing to the school board’s attention Monday night.