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Duquesne charter school denied

| Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, 6:54 a.m.

Duquesne City School District's court-appointed receiver Paul B. Long has denied the application for a proposed charter school.

Long acted on behalf of the school board when he denied the Duquesne Charter School's second application at a business meeting on Tuesday.

The first application was not subject to Long's approval. It was sent to a state appeals board because of the district's inaction.

The district is working through a financial and educational recovery plan, mandated by the state Department of Education and Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. Students in kindergarten through sixth grade attend Duquesne Education Center. Students in seventh through 12th grades attend West Mifflin Area and East Allegheny schools.

The charter school applicants proposed a kindergarten-through-sixth grade facility intended to serve approximately 200 students. It was the subject of a Dec. 27 public hearing, at which applicants and district administrators testified to what they believe are the school's pros and cons.

“We are not here to replace Duquesne City or any other district,” Duquesne Charter School Founding Group president Connie Lucas said at the hearing. “Our goal is to provide a high standard of education for children right here in their community.”

Duquesne's chief recovery officer Paul Rach and acting Superintendent Barbara McDonnell flipped through the application page by page, adding footnotes about what they described as inconsistencies, contradictions and references to out-of-date law.

On Tuesday, Long said he considered the administration's assessment of the application when making his decision.

Long concluded that the application fell short because it is contrary to the district's financial recovery plan.

He said it fails to:

• Demonstrate sustainable support for the charter school.

• Demonstrate the capability, in terms of support and planning, to provide a comprehensive learning experience to students.

• Include all contents of the application as required by charter school law.

• Establish that is can serve as a model for other public schools.

McDonnell said after the meeting that she agrees with Long on professional and emotional grounds.

“I want our kids to stay here, and I think he made a good decision,” she said.

Lucas did not attend Tuesday's meeting and could not be reached by phone. Long said members of the Founding Group and the state Department of Education will be notified formally on Wednesday.

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1956., or jvertullo@tribweb.com.

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