After twice failing to have its operating charter renewed by the Philadelphia School Reform Commission, Community Academy in Kensington escalated the controversy by asking the state for help.
The city's oldest charter school wants the Pennsylvania Charter Appeal Board to order the SRC to renew its charter on the ground that it is entitled to do so under the commission's split vote of 2-1-1. District lawyers maintain three votes are necessary for approval.
At Wednesday's nonvoting SRC meeting, meanwhile, Commissioner Joseph A. Dworetzky, who has voted against renewing the charter because of low test scores, proposed a way to end the stalemate. He introduced one resolution calling for nonrenewal and another seeking proposals from others interested in operating a charter school in Community's neighborhood if his first measure is approved.
The SRC will vote on the proposals Monday.
Although Community's charter will expire June 30, district officials have assured the school that it will remain open in the fall no matter what happens. State law requires the district to hold public hearings before it can close a charter school.
Joseph Proietta, Community's founder and chief executive, said he was stunned by Dworetzky's proposals.
"That is waiting until the last minute to blindside us," he said. "And the law requires that if we're denied, the district has to give us 30 days notice."
Proietta also questioned whether the SRC could vote on the renewal when an appeal was pending before the state board.
Community, which opened in 1997 and is based at 1100 E. Erie Ave., enrolls 1,200 students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Timothy Eller, a state Department of Education spokesman, said the appeal board had not yet scheduled a hearing.
When the SRC first considered renewing Community's charter in February, Commissioners Johnny Irizarry and Denise McGregor Armbrister voted in favor.
Chairman Robert L. Archie Jr. abstained because the law firm in which he is a partner, Duane Morris L.L.P., represents the charter. Archie also has served as the school's bond counsel. The fifth seat on the commission has been vacant since David F. Girard-diCarlo resigned in February.
The 2-1-1 split was repeated when the SRC voted on Community again in April.