Archive for category lehigh valley dual language charter school

Bethlehem charter school to get 5 more years with enrollment cap

Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School has agreed to limit the number of Bethlehem Area School District students it enrolls.

The Bethlehem Area School District plans to …

Bethlehem district wants answers on charter’s missed payment

Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School says the missed pension contribution was just a mistake.

The Bethlehem school district wants to know why its state aid has been do…

Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School gets nod to move

The South Side Bethlehem charter school has outgrown its location in a shuttered Catholic school on Thomas Street.

It took two years and three different proposed new schools, but…

Bethlehem shows support for new charter school site but still holds up approval

The Bethlehem Area School District supports a new location for the Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School but still postponed a vote on the new school building Monday.

The Be…

Lehigh Valley charter school’s relocation plans hit another roadblock

The Bethlehem Area School District has concerns about how the school is paying for construction updates to its new proposed location.

Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School’s…

Bethlehem school board votes down charter school move over religious concerns

The Bethlehem Area School Board’s rejection of the application was unanimous.

The Bethlehem Area School Board tonight rejected a charter school’s bid to open a second location in a closed Catholic school, citing concerns about the separation of church and state.

Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School thinks the district’s reasons for blocking the move are ridiculous, said Brian Leinhauser, the school’s attorney. The school plans to immediately file an appeal with the state Charter Appeal Board.

The charter school has outgrown its current location in another shuttered Bethlehem Catholic school at 551 Thomas Street. It applied to the school board this summer asking to move its middle school to the former Seton Academy in West Bethlehem.

The Bethlehem school board held a hearing on the request in September and then had a 30-day public comment period. It unanimously shot down the application Monday.

The charter school is disappointed the district is further delaying its second location, it said in a statement. The Charter Appeal Board has repeatedly ruled when approving a building a board can consider the lease terms, the building owner and whether its a suitable learning environment, the release says.

“The BASD board’s decision is just another tactic to disrupt the education of students at Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School,” the statement said.

School Principal Lisa Pluchinsky said the school has renegotiated the Seton lease to only rent office and storage space. The current building is at capacity with 383 students.

“Educationally, right now, we’re focusing on delivering a quality K-6 program while this is dealt with in the courts,” she said.

The school board has already rejected another expansion bid by the charter on the grounds state law bars charter schools from operating multiple locations. That request is still tied up in litigation.

With this second case, the school district is concerned about a large cross on the school building and language in the school’s lease with Saints Simon and Jude Parish, the Catholic church that owns the school building.

The charter school’s current school building also has a large cross on the building. The school has no problem covering up any iconography on the new building and has permission to do so, Leinhauser said.

The lease states that the charter acknowledges the building is a former Catholic school and it sits adjacent to the church and rectory.

It also states that the charter school “agrees not to represent the nature of the property’s former use in such fashion that would improperly or immorally reflect upon the values of the lessor,” according to the district.

Leinhauser said the district is misreading the intent of the contract.

“We went back and forth with the diocese to ensure we had language that would not restrict in any way our ability to educate our students,” Leinhauser said. “They have no say in the teaching we provide in our facility.”

The Diocese of Allentown did not want the public thinking the charter school was affiliated with the former Catholic school and doing anything that was detrimental to its image, he said.

“We have no intention of talking about the prior use of the facility,” Leinhauser said.

The state charter school law prohibits charter schools from displaying any religious objects and symbols to maintain the separation of church and state, the district argues in its resolution.

This has been reiterated by the state Charter Appeals Board, which has found “that a charter’s display of religious symbols will likely be associated with the charter school, even when there is no evidence the charter school paid for the religious symbols,” the district argues.

The charter school’s ongoing legal battles with the district have forced it to send its seventh and eighth graders back to their home schools. The school thought its second location would be approved rather quickly.

When that became mired in hearings, the charter school began operating a modified schedule for its eldest students that attended school from 3:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. and Saturday.

Then the district filed an appeal with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court over the initial expansion bid. The charter accepted its unlikely to be resolved this year, meaning students couldn’t log enough classroom hours with the modified schedule.

The Bethlehem Area School District rejected the school’s request to open a separate middle school in August of 2013. The charter dealt with the setback by operating kindergarten as a half-day program and filed an appeal with the state Charter Appeal Board.

The appeal board sided with Bethlehem’s argument that state law only permits Philadelphia charter schools to operate out of multiple locations. The charter appealed to the Commonwealth Court, which agreed with the charter and sent the matter back to the appeal board.

Bethlehem Area asked for a full panel of judges to hear the case, a request that was denied, leading to this final appeal.

Sara K. Satullo may be reached at ssatullo@express-times.com. Follow her on Twitter @sarasatullo. Find Bethlehem news on Facebook.

Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School seventh-, eighth-graders to attend class on Saturdays

The school holds a parent meeting Wednesday night.

Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School seventh- and eighth-graders will be in school on Saturdays and holidays as its …

Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School holding parent meeting

The school is updating the parents of seventh- and eighth-grade students, who are now on a modified schedule.

Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School is holding a meeting for …