Academy Loses Its Charter
A state board upheld findings by Morrisville's
school district. The online school will appeal.
by Martha Woodall, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer, May
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The state charter appeals board pulled the plug yesterday on
Einstein Academy, once the largest of the state's eight online
By a 6-0 vote, the board upheld a decision of the Morrisville
Borough School District to revoke the school's charter.
During yesterday's meeting, board members did not give reasons
for their decision. But State Secretary of Education Vicki L.
Phillips said in an interview later that members had agreed with
many of Morrisville's findings, including the lack of special
education services and poor fiscal management at the school.
Phillips said the school, which has a K-12 enrollment of 670
students, would operate through the end of the academic year.
"We do not want to disrupt the children," she said.
Einstein officials said they were not entirely surprised by the
ruling and would appeal to Commonwealth Court.
"We expected that vote. However, I thought that legal and common
sense might prevail," said Barry Delit, Einstein's president and
chief executive officer.
He said the school had resolved several of the problems cited,
including offering more special education services and improving
Delit said he would recommend that Einstein parents make
alternative education plans for next fall. "Just in case things
go south, they should start making other arrangements," he said.
"They can always be canceled."
He said some parents had already signed up with other charters
but assured him their children would return to Einstein if the
The Morrisville school board in Bucks County granted Einstein a
five-year charter, and the school opened with 3,000 students in
September 2001. A year later, Morrisville voted to revoke the
charter on the ground that the school had failed to correct
numerous problems, the most serious being those involving
financial management and special education.
During the appeals board hearing in March, Einstein officials
acknowledged that the school had had a rough beginning but
argued that the school deserved a second chance. They attributed
many of the problems to the school's original leadership, which
has been replaced.
Yesterday's decision was the latest blow to a school that found
itself embroiled in court battles and funding disputes from the
More than 100 school districts filed lawsuits challenging the
school's legality and refused to pay the tuition of their
students enrolled in Einstein.
While the courts considered the legal issues, the department of
education withheld state funding from districts that refused to
pay the tuition. But during the 2001-02 year, the department
also delayed forwarding those payments to Einstein, citing the
same problems that Morrisville had found.
The courts ultimately found that cyber schools were legal, and
the legislature passed a law spelling out how the schools should
This year, there were fewer funding problems. Delit said the
school had improved its relationship with the department and had
been receiving all its scheduled monthly tuition payments from
Einstein students receive instruction in their homes via the
Internet. They use e-mail to correspond with their teachers and
turn in assignments. As a publicly funded charter, Einstein
bills the students' school districts for their tuition.
Contact staff writer Martha Woodall at 215-854-2789 or at