A cash-strapped charter school with two Philadelphia campuses has notified parents it plans to close for good this week. But officials from the School District of Philadelphia said Saturday night the decision was news to them.
In a notice posted on the school's website, administrators at the Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School said its board had voted to permanently close the school Wednesday after months of financial turmoil. The words permanently close were in red. A letter dated Friday was sent out to parents with information about reenrolling their children at other schools.
But as of late Saturday, charter administrators had not yet notified the district of their plans, district spokesman Fernando Gallard said.
"The Walter Palmer organization has not informed the School District," he said in a statement. "We will be reaching out to the school administration to confirm its plans to close."
The Palmer charter, a K-8 school with campuses in Northern Liberties and Frankford, has struggled for months to balance its books.
This month, teachers scheduled to be paid Dec. 5 received their checks three days late and were told the money would not be immediately available.
At the time, Walter D. Palmer, the school's founder and board president, blamed the delay on a "timing issue." He did not return calls Saturday seeking comment.
The school also had its budgets slashed this year for failing to make required payments to the state teachers' pension program. And it is still paying off a $1.5 million court judgment owed to the district for collecting money for students it was not authorized to enroll.
Until the fall, the school had nearly 1,300 students, even though its operating agreement set a limit of 675. To comply with court orders, Palmer eliminated its high school program in October and held a lottery to cut the number of K-8 students.
"The School District is ready to assist parents and students with transition to public schools," Gallard said Saturday. "The School District has set up a dedicated website for Walter Palmer parents to assist them with the transition process. Parents can access it through the district's website at www.philasd.org.";