THE WALTER D. PALMER Leadership Learning Partners Charter School filed an emergency petition Wednesday with a Philadelphia court seeking school-district funds to continue operating, the latest chapter in the ongoing legal battle between the parties.
If the charter school does not receive by today the $1.38 million it claims it is owed by the district, then 1,290 Palmer students "will be displaced and staff layoffs will occur," according to a memorandum filed by the school's lawyer, Robert Gamburg.
Operations at its two schools covering grades K-12 would cease "as a result of being unable to meet its payroll and other financial obligations," according to the emergency petition.
District spokesman Fernando Gallard declined to discuss the litigation, but said the district has been informed about the possibility of closure.
"We are working on a plan on how to relocate students," Gallard said.
Founder Walter Palmer said in a phone interview last night that the school owes vendors about $1 million.
A hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. today in Room 425 in City Hall.
When the charter school was renewed in 2005 for five years, the agreement with the district contained an enrollment cap of 675 students. Three years later, according to the memorandum, the state Legislature amended the charter-school law to include a provision that barred enrollment caps unless agreed upon.
The Palmer school enrollment grew while the district contended that it should remain at 675 students and would only pay for the agreed-upon number. The state would pay the school for the remaining students and then deduct that sum from its funding to the district.
The state Supreme Court ruled in May that Palmer was bound by the 2005 agreement. After that decision, the state stopped sending $300,000 and now owes the school $1.38 million, Palmer said.
"We can't educate 1,300 students for two-thirds of the money we normally get," he said.
The School Reform Commission voted in April to suspend and revoke the school's charter based on lackluster academic performance and financial issues.
Palmer and the petition cited a May letter sent from Superintendent William Hite to school parents, teachers and staff, stating that it would no longer suspend the charter, but it would proceed with revocation.
The school "will open for the 2014-15 school year," Hite wrote.
The Palmer community "reasonably relied on this assurance," the petition reads.