A Philadelphia charter school seeking district funding for its disputed high school and additional students has asked Commonwealth Court to intervene.
The Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School sued the School District of Philadelphia and the School Reform Commission on Friday on the grounds that the district is violating state law by capping charter enrollment and is improperly withholding funding for students beyond the limit of 675 in the school's operating charter.
The suit also alleges that the Pennsylvania Department of Education failed to give the charter nearly $1.7 million it says it is owed for additional students. When districts refuse to pay tuition for students in charter schools, state law permits the department to deduct aid from districts and divert it to charters.
The charter, whose main campus is at 910 N. Sixth St., enrolls nearly 900 students.
In its filing, the charter also asks the court to issue a preliminary injunction barring the state Education Department from holding a hearing Thursday on the disputed $1.7 million. The charter says the hearing is unnecessary.
Late Friday, Commonwealth Court scheduled a hearing on the preliminary injunction for Wednesday.
Spokesmen for the School District and the Education Department declined to comment.
The district maintains it does not owe the charter money because its high school was not authorized by the SRC and the charter has enrolled more students than permitted.
Unlike those of other districts, Philadelphia's agreements with charters contain enrollment maximums. District officials have said they believe the policy does not violate state law banning caps because the schools agreed to the terms.
But in court documents, Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners said its limit of 675 was "unilaterally imposed" by the SRC in 2005 and 2009 without consultation or agreement.
Joseph T. Doyle, a Media lawyer who won two suits involving enrollment caps on charters in the Chester Upland School District, is the lead attorney in the Palmer case.
"I litigated and won the past two cases," Doyle said. "I see the absolute recalcitrance and obstinacy on the part of the Pennsylvania Department of Education, always backing school districts and depriving charter schools of what they're entitled to."
The Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools backs the school and hopes the lawsuit ends Philadelphia's practice of limiting enrollment at the city's 74 charter schools.