School & District Management

Pennsylvania and York City Schools Ask Judge to End Receivership

By Denisa R. Superville — March 25, 2015 2 min read

The Pennsylvania Department of Education and the York City School Board are asking a Commonwealth Court judge to end the state takeover of the academically and financially troubled school district, likely ending the prospect that all of the schools in the district will become charter schools.

The petition was filed on Tuesday and reported Wednesday by the York Daily Record and the York Dispatch.

Marc Tarlow, the attorney representing the school district, told the York Daily Record: “We welcome the development and we think it’s the best path forward to moving the district in a positive direction.”

Wednesday’s news is the latest in the long-running court battle that shifted into high gear on Dec. 26, when Common Pleas Judge Stephen P. Linebaugh granted the state’s request to appoint a receiver to run the district.

The recovery officer, David Meckley, whose transformation plan included transferring the management of all of the schools to a for-profit organization, resigned earlier this month, saying that it was difficult to proceed, given new Gov. Tom Wolf’s opposition to turning the schools into charters.

Meckley was first appointed to the role in 2012.

Wolf’s approach to school transformation and school funding differs from that of his predecessor, Republican Tom Corbett, whose administration first appointed Meckley.

Wolf’s budget proposal this month promised a heavy injection of funds to local schools and a pledge to undo education cuts made during Corbett’s administration.

Last year, District Dossier looked at the possibility of York’s conversion to an all-charter district. Such an action would have placed York among the few school districts in the country where all schools are run by a single for-profit management organization.

The state Department of Education petition to end receivership has to be approved by a Commonwealth Court judge.

The Department of Education is also asking the Commonwealth Court to direct Judge Linebaugh, who heard the state’s original request for receivership late last year and appointed Meckley as receiver, to permit the state to withdraw the request to put the district into receivership, according to the York Dispatch.

A spokesman for Gov. Wolf told the York Dispatch that the administration was looking for a replacement for Meckley, but that the replacement would have a very different role.

As recovery officer, Meckley assumed all the powers of the local school board except the ones to levy taxes. The replacement would serve as a co-chair of a community action committee and work with the community, including the city’s mayor, Kim Bracey, to solicit community input on how to move forward, the spokesman, Jeff Sheridan, told the paper.

A significant portion of the community had been opposed to the charter conversion, with many parents and students staging rallies against the proposal. The teachers’ union and the school board challenged the initial request for receivership in court and appealed the receivership ruling.

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.