Chester Community Charter School and Pennsylvania Department of Education Agree to Dismissal of Litigation Involving Special Education Program

None of the 316 Students Who Were Identified in Department of Education's Review Were Found to be Improperly Classified

May 05, 2010, 18:27 ET from Chester Community Charter School

CHESTER, Pa., May 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Chester Community Charter School (CCCS) today announced that the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and CCCS voluntarily agreed to dismiss litigation involving the PDE's Enforcement Action, in which the PDE questioned the CCCS' identification of students in need of "special education."  


CCCS' CEO, Steven E. Lee, said, "This is great news and a reaffirmation for our entire school community. We'll continue in our efforts to provide the very best learning experience we can to Chester's young people." Vahan Gureghian, CEO of Charter School Management, Inc. (CSMI), which provides management services to CCCS, noted, "This conveys what Chester Community Charter School's educators have long known for themselves, that their innovative, effective approach to education leads to tangible academic success for their students."

Against the bleak backdrop of Pennsylvania's worst performing school district, CCCS shines as a beacon of hope to the children of Chester. CCCS consistently outperforms the district's schools by wide margins on objective student achievement tests, and presents the only viable educational choice for most students in the district.

Despite this success, the PDE has audited CCCS' special education program an unprecedented five times in seven years. Even under this heightened scrutiny, CCCS has repeatedly received commendations from the PDE. Then, four months after concluding its fifth audit, the PDE issued a report on August 15, 2008, questioning whether 316 students at CCCS may have been improperly classified as needing special education, and directing CCCS to "re-do the evaluations" for all 316 students within 60 days.

On the basis that federal law prohibited the PDE's directives, CCCS was forced to seek protection in the Commonwealth Court so as not to violate federal law in complying with the Department's demands. The Commonwealth Court agreed with CCCS and entered a preliminary injunction preventing the Department from enforcing its directives.

Nevertheless, to ensure that each of its students receives an education tailored to his or her individual needs, CCCS made available for the Department's review the evaluations already conducted, and if that review was not conclusive, CCCS agreed to seek parental consent for a re-evaluation. Almost two years after the PDE completed its audit, this enormous task is finally complete. Of the 316 students identified by the PDE, none were determined to have been improperly classified on the basis of the evaluations on file in 2008. Moreover, nineteen students were determined to no longer be in need of special education as a result of later re-evaluations – an indication that the special education provided at CCCS helped these students overcome their disabilities and allowed them to participate in the regular education program.

The issues having been resolved to the satisfaction of the PDE and CCCS, both parties voluntarily agreed to the dismissal of the Commonwealth Court action, which the Court approved on March 31, 2010.

About Chester Community Charter School (CCCS)

CCCS opened its doors on September 9, 1998, serving 97 students from its modest, four meeting rooms in the lobby of the Howard Johnson Hotel, in Chester, PA. Since then, CCCS has steadily increased its enrollment to over 2500 students in ten state-of-the-art buildings, making it the largest bricks and mortar charter school in Pennsylvania. Recently, 1400 of CCCS' students in grades 3 through 8 were provided personal laptop computers through the One Laptop per Child program. CCCS consistently outperforms the schools in Chester-Upland School District, in which it is based, by wide margins on objective student achievement tests.

SOURCE Chester Community Charter School