There are a few ways that charter schools in Pennsylvania can fight a school district’s decision to non-renew their charter.

One option, written into the Commonwealth’s Charter School Law is to appeal the decision through the state’s Charter Appeal Board (CAB) This board is responsible for hearing appeals of non-renewal decisions made by school districts. The charter school would need to provide evidence to the board that the decision was unjustified or that the school district did not follow the proper procedures in making the decision.

Another option may be to file a lawsuit against the school district. A charter school could argue that the district’s decision was arbitrary and capricious, or that the district did not have the authority to make the decision.

In some schools, Charter schools may be able to negotiate with the school district. This could involve working with the district to address any concerns they may have about the school’s performance and trying to come to an agreement that would allow the charter to continue operating to include a modified charter term of one to three years. This can only be accomplished if the authorizer is cordial and is not blatantly trying to eliminate competition to force students back into its budget. Unfortunately, for those. located in Philadelphia, PA, which is home to more than half of the Commonwealth’s charter schools that have the School District of Philadelphia as its authorizer, negotiating is not an option. Black school leaders have protested the school district’s practice of targeting mostly Black-founded and Black-led charter schools while giving white-founded charter schools numerous expansions although those schools had the same deficiencies the district used to close the others.

And this is where Sylvia Marketing & Public Relations comes in. For nearly 20 years we have helped charter schools engage and mobilize community leaders, parents, and students to advocate for the school through customized campaigns. Actions included organizing rallies or letter-writing campaigns to show support for the school, recruiting parents and students to speak out about the impact the school has had on their lives and generating testimonials that the school can use as part of its CAB defense strategy.

It’s worth noting that, in general, the law and regulations regarding charter schools vary by state, so the specific process and options available to fight non-renewal decisions may vary depending on the state. It’s important for the charter school to consult with legal counsel and understand the process in the state where it is located.

Whether you run a Philadelphia charter school, a Pennsylvania charter school in the most remote part of the Commonwealth, or a charter school anywhere else in the United States, you need to start planning for charter renewal a long time before the renewal application year. Although Sylvia Marketing & Public Relations serves charter schools from New York City to Los Angeles, CA, and 14 states in between, we emphasize PA charter schools because it only allows for five-year charter terms.

Pennsylvania’s short charter renewal process is burdensome and ridiculous, as the Charter School Act is nearly 25 years old. Schools that have continuously been renewed over a 10-20 year period should be granted much longer terms.

Regardless, charter schools need to launch “charter renewal campaigns” at least two years before their renewal year. And, because campaigns require extensive media coverage as well as the development of online and video testimonials, charter schools with five-year terms are better off maintaining a full-time public relations program. By establishing a continuous public relations program with renewal in mind, charter schools can shape public opinion, shore up widespread support, and control their narratives, making it difficult for school districts that want to eliminate the competition to make a case against such schools.

Get your school renewal-ready, so you can position it to avoid a costly Charter Appeal Board campaign. Contact Sylvia Marketing & Public Relations today at or 215-817-3095 to get started.



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