Judge’s Decision in York, PA District Could Pave Way for Charters

david_meckly

A judge’s ruling last week giving Pennsylvania the right to appoint a receiver in the York City School District, which has struggled in the past both academically and financially, could cause the district to be the first in the state to operate under an all-charter model.

The issue has raised a whole host of legal, educational and political issues, which includes whether or not current Governor Tom Corbett should make any changes prior to Governor-elect Tom Wolf taking over on January 20.

“Governor-elect Wolf has made it very clear that he wants this process to wait until he is governor so he can analyze the issue,” said Mr. Wolf’s spokesman Jeff Sheridan.

According to officials from the state Department of Education, appointed receiver David Meckley has the right to move forward unless a court order prevents him.

“Mr. Meckley can now implement the much-needed financial recovery plan that will improve the district’s educational programs, increase student achievement and restore financial stability to the district,” said acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq in a statement.

Meckley is a local businessman who has been the district’s chief recovery officer since 2012.  The state DOE had requested the change on December 1.

In his new role, Meckley will have the power to control hiring, budgeting, and other policies within the district for three years.  His previous role as recovery officer allowed Meckley to create a plan, putting all the schools in the district under the control of Charter Schools USA, a for-profit school management company that currently aids 50,000 students in 70 schools nationwide.

His new role will allow Meckley to go forward with his plan, despite any local criticism.  While this is expected, no official word has been released by Meckley on the topic.

However, plans to privatize schools in the city have previously faced opposition by the district, as well as by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and Democratic Gov.-elect Tom Wolf.

Those who oppose say the move would offer Republicans more power before the current Governor leaves office.  The Corbett administration has shown support for charter and private schools and have often been in conflict with supporters of traditional public school systems, writes Blake Neff for The Daily Caller.

“One could easily posit that Governor Corbett’s game plan has been to starve public education to justify privatization,” argued state Rep. Kevin Schreiber in a statement. “[Now,] that plan has been implemented successfully.”

Critics of the move have appealed the decision, causing Meckley to announce that any plans he had will be put on hold until the Commonwealth Court reaches a decision.

“We’re told that that appeal has to be settled before he can move in as receiver,” said Margie Orr, president of the district’s school board. “I don’t know how it works. We’ll find out more, I’m hoping, in the near future.”