School & District Management

Cyber Charter Ignores Demand From Pa. to Close

By David Gambacorta, Philadelphia Daily News (MCT) — July 02, 2012 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Board members of the Philly-based Frontier Virtual Charter High School discussed plans on Saturday to hire 16 teachers and grow the student population during the upcoming school year.

This would seem like unremarkable news, of course, except for one little thing: state Secretary of Education Ronald Tomalis made it clear in a June 13 letter to Frontier’s CEO, John Craig, that the school had no hope of opening in the fall.

An ongoing state investigation had found that the school which made headlines in March, when the teaching staff was suddenly laid off had extensive violations of the Charter School Law.

“There is no indication that Frontier Virtual School could provide an appropriate education to students who may enroll ... in the 2012-2013 school year,” Tomalis wrote to Craig.

Tomalis laid out a crystal clear ultimatum: if the Frontier’s board didn’t meet by June 22 and voluntarily surrender its charter, the Department of Education was going to file charges to have the charter formally revoked. The cyber-school’s leaders apparently chose a third, unmentioned option.

“They said they sent a proposal to [the state] to keep the school open, and they’re waiting to hear back,” said Chris Kristofco, whose wife, Amanda, taught at the school until the staff was laid off.

“They’re planning to hire 16 new teachers,” said Kristofco, who attended the meeting, “and start the year with 55 students, and grow to 200 by the end of the year.”

It’s unknown if the state has indeed received a counterproposal from Frontier, or if the Department of Education has already filed charges to have the charter revoked. A spokesman for the Department did not respond to a request for comment.

Kristofco said he asked about the June 13 letter from Tomalis to Craig, which was reported in the Daily News last week.

“They said it was false, and that the Daily News was not a reputable source,” he said.

Craig did not respond last week to a request for comment about Tomalis’s vow to revoke the school’s charter. Brian Leinhauser, an attorney who is now representing the school, could not be reached for comment.

The People Paper began reporting on the school’s academic and financial woes in March, when the staff was suddenly laid off and parents began complaining that their children weren’t being educated.

Records showed that many of the school’s 85 students were habitually truant or failing their classes.

Tomalis said in his letter that the school failed to provide students with promised computer equipment and courses that were a vital part of the school’s curriculum. Tomalis also said the school failed to monitor student attendance and academic performance.

Related Tags:

Copyright (c) 2012, Philadelphia Daily News, Pa. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.


Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Achievement Webinar
Mission Possible: Saving Time While Improving Student Outcomes
Learn how district leaders are maximizing instructional time and finding the best resources for student success through their MTSS framework.
Content provided by Panorama Education
Reading & Literacy K-12 Essentials Forum Writing and the Science of Reading
Join us for this free event as we highlight and discuss the intersection of reading and writing with Education Week reporters and expert guests.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Leader To Learn From Transforming a School District, One Relationship at a Time
Richard Tomko of Belleville, N.J., schools wants to build an early foundation for students and help those with disabilities flourish.
8 min read
Richard Tomko, Superintendent of Belleville Public Schools in Belleville, N.J., visits Mrs. Gras’ pre-K class and participates in a dancing activity to enrich gross motor skills on Tuesday, January 10, 2023. One of Dr. Tomko’s main initiatives as superintendent has been to grow Belleville Public School’s “Preschool Universe,” which has been largely successful since the opening of the Hornblower Early Childhood Center in 2020. District enrollment in the “Preschool Universe” was at 7.8% in the 2018-19 school year, and is now at 86.7% for the 2022-23 school year.
Richard Tomko, superintendent of Belleville public schools in Belleville, N.J., has deepened community trust while improving the district's financial footing and expanding academic programs.
Sam Mallon/Education Week
School & District Management Photo Essay PHOTOS: A Superintendent Who Exudes Joy in All Things
EdWeek photographer Sam Mallon reflects on her day with Richard Tomko, a 2023 Leaders to Learn From honoree.
2 min read
During a visit to the new Belleville Indoor Training Facility, Richard Tomko, Superintendent of Belleville Public Schools, speaks with Carolyn Guancione, Indoor Training Facility Support Staff, about how the space continues to transform, in Belleville, N.J., on Tuesday, January 10, 2023. The new training facility was built to facilitate and accommodate general physical activity and training for sports teams within the school system and the greater Belleville community.
Richard Tomko, the superintendent of Belleville public schools, speaks with Carolyn Gancione during a visit to the district's new indoor training facility, which is shared with the community.
Sam Mallon/Education Week
School & District Management Opinion Your School Leadership Needs More Student Voice
When one Virginia principal moved from middle school to high school, he knew he would need to find new ways of soliciting student feedback.
S. Kambar Khoshaba
3 min read
Illustration of students holding speech bubbles.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week via Canva
School & District Management First Latina Selected to Lead National Principals Group
Raquel Martinez is a middle school principal in Pasco, Wash.
3 min read
Raquel Martinez, the principal of Stevens Middle School, in Pasco, Wash., was named president-elect of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. She’s the first Latina to hold the position.
Raquel Martinez, the principal of Stevens Middle School, in Pasco, Wash., was named president-elect of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. She’s the first Latina to hold the position.
Courtesy of the National Association of Secondary School Principals