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Seven Gen Charter Renewal Approved by East Penn Board

The East Penn Board of School Directors unanimously approved a five-year charter renewal for Seven Generations Charter School at last night’s school board meeting

got the green light from the last night to keep doing what it’s been doing for the next five years – sort of.

The board unanimously approved at Monday night’s school board meeting Seven Gen’s charter renewal for the period beginning Sept. 8, 2012 through Sept. 7, 2017, but there are some strings attached.

One of the conditions included in the five-year charter renewal is a full curriculum audit by an outside party to be completed before Sept. 1, 2012. The purpose of the audit would be to identify gaps in Seven Gen’s K-8 curriculum and make recommendations for filling those gaps.

In expressing his support for the charter renewal, School Board President Charles Ballard said that he would vote in favor of the charter renewal because “there is no legal basis for any other option” that he could see.

“I have expressed reservations about whether or not the curriculum at Seven Gen was the curriculum that was advertised in their charter application,” Ballard said. “It is a very extensive curriculum in terms of volume of paper, but it is still not clear to me that that that curriculum has been implemented as advertised.

“There are limited legal reasons for denying renewal of the charter,” Ballard continued. “The stipulations that Seven Gen has agreed to will go a long way (toward proving they are doing what they claim to be doing).”

Ballard added that he is particularly interested in looking into how Seven Gen will prepare it’s 7th and 8th grade students to enter and make the transition “back into the system.”

School Director Alan Earnshaw thanked East Penn Superintendent of Schools Thomas L. Seidenberger and his team for their thorough evaluation of Seven Gen and said that there were both things that “pleased” and “displeased” him about Seven Gen in the superintendent’s report.

Earnshaw said that it is clear that early on Seven Gen was operating in violation of Sunshine Law, holding the equivalent of school board meetings in which employees were hired and contractors retained to do work on the school building without properly advertising those meetings.

“I am pleased that the school has rectified those issues,” Earnshaw said. “One of the challenges that we have (as school directors) is the plethora of regulations that we have to abide by.

“I am glad that we are approving this (charter renewal) with conditions and stipulations for improving their program, and I think that if they adhere to them, they will be a much better partner to East Penn School District,” he said.

Superintendent of Schools Thomas L. Seidenberger did not attend the May 14 East Penn School Board meeting.

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