West Philadelphia High School will not become a Renaissance school in the fall after school district officials learned last week that a group associated with a potential provider paid some parents $500 each, a district source said.
A source with knowledge of the situation said officials became skeptical of Johns Hopkins University/Diploma NOW when officials received reports that a group associated with it that would have provided support services in the school, dished out the dough to four parents on West's school advisory council for outreach.
But representatives from the Philadelphia Education Fund said the work the members were paid for, which includes recruiting parents to get involved at the school, predates the Renaissance initiative.
In a statement released yesterday, district officials said they "decided to defer making West Philadelphia High School a Renaissance school for the upcoming 2010-2011 [school year] pending an investigation into allegations of conflicts of interest surrounding potential outside providers."
A district spokeswoman declined to provide further details, citing the ongoing investigation.
The school will still be an Empowerment school and will continue to receive additional resources, district spokeswoman Evelyn Sample-Oates said.
The School Reform Commission last week delayed a vote on choosing a potential provider for the school after the allegations came to the district's attention.
The school council had been considering Johns Hopkins University/Diploma NOW as its provider. The organization already provides services at the school's freshman academy. Had the organization been chosen as a manager, the Education Fund would have been support partners, said Carol Fixman, the group's executive director.
But Fixman, whose organization began the parent outreach program in September, and has paid the four parents $8 per hour, said no lines were crossed.
"Those parents [who were paid] did not advocate for any Renaissance model," she said. "We were paying them to do outreach in the community not to advocate for any model, but to improve the school."
Officials from Johns Hopkins could not be reached for comment.