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THE FINDING OF

FACT VS

The Potential Closing of the Only New Hope


Table of Contents Introduction................................................................................................................................ 02 A Brief History of New Hope Academy Charter School................................................................ 03 1. The York City School Board claims that New Hope failed to file Statements of Financial Interest......... 04 2. The York City School Board claims that New Hope failed to meet student performance standards........12 3. The York City School Board claims that New Hope violated its admission’s policy................. 16 4. The York City School Board claims that New Hope Academy Charter School violated laws governing truancy and student attendance reporting............................................................. 20 5. The York City School Board claims that New Hope Academy failed to properly file their approval for Alternative Education for Disruptive Youth Programming.................................. 23 6. The York City School Board claims that New Hope requests for student records were prohibited by law..... 24 Additional Presentation of Facts................................................................................................. 25 Inadequate Yearly Progress: 1966-2012...................................................................................... 26 Collaboration, Not Closure.......................................................................................................... 27 Appendicies:............................................................................................................................... 28

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Introduction In 2012, the York City School District denied renewal of the charter for New Hope Academy. New Hope Academy Charter School Board of Trustees in conjunction with 3Cord Inc. completed the following report to demonstrate through key documents the malicious and fictitious nature of the current claims against the school with the hope that their true story can be told. The following report addresses the facts and highlights key documents that are imperative to understanding the essential information surrounding the claims brought forth by the School District of the City of York against New Hope Academy. These documents show that the ‘findings of fact’ are, according to testimony and documentation, simply not facts at all. These documents show: 1. According to the IRS and independent auditors, New Hope Academy Board of Trustees did their due diligence with respect to financial management of the school. 2. York City Schools are NOT outperforming New Hope Academy Charter School. 3. New Hope Academy’s approved Charter never contained the admissions policy referenced by the District Attorney. 4. Alleged violations of truancy and attendance reporting could not be verified by the District’s own staff. 5. The approval of Alternative Education Programs was completed, after New Hope Academy was informed of its necessity, but never permitted into the record. Formal documents found in this presentation have been formatted to fit within the text of this content.

Copies of this document and the supporting references can be found at 600 N. Hartley Street, Suite 170 York, PA 17404 or by contacting Denise Stouffer at dstouffer@3cordinc.com.

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A Brief History of New Hope Academy Charter School New Hope Academy Charter School was founded in 2007 after parents and community activists communicated that York City lacked rigorous, safe schools for children in grades 6 through 12. The founders chose to design New Hope Academy to service these grade-levels, knowing the hurdles they would face. They knew that children would enter New Hope Academy at an academic deficit based on the District Schools’ lack of progress for five years prior to the New Hope’s opening. The founders of New Hope Academy Charter School took on this challenge by creating a structured school where children could thrive academically and successfully transition from high school to post-secondary education.

Timeline: In March 12, 2007 the York City School District and the Department of Education approved the Board to Operate New Hope Academy Charter School for the period of July 1, 2007 to July 1, 2012. During the 2007 – 2008 school year, New Hope Academy served students in grades 7 and 8 and in 2008 – 2009 school year New Hope Academy served students in grades 7 – 10. On July 15, 2009, York City School District approved an amendment for New Hope Academy to add 6th grade to the Charter. On February 16, 2011 York City School District approved the amendment for New Hope Academy to add 5th grade for the 2011-2012 school year. October 19, 2011 York City School District approved the amendment for New Hope Academy to add a Performing Arts Program in partnership with the Strand Capitol Performing Arts Center. January 30, 2012 the New Hope Academy Board of Trustees received notification that their request for renewal was denied. Since 2007 New Hope Academy has accomplished the following: • 93% attendance rate • 91% graduation rate – (first senior class 2011) • 99% Safer than schools within the York City School District • 84% of students have continued their education at post-secondary institutions such as: o Pennsylvania State University o Temple University o DeSales University • Harvard University has interviewed its first New Hope Academy Charter School student in 2013 • 1.3 million dollars in merit-based scholarships were awarded in 2012

The potential closure of New Hope Academy represents closure of a dream of college, and a future for so many children. New Hope Academy Charter School is the first school in York City to make a statistical change in urban education since 1966.

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Throughout the denial process, York City School District has made several claims against New Hope Academy, its Board of Trustees, and 3Cord Management Company. This report refutes each of these claims, not through conjecture or accusation, but rather through showing the actual documents and information that prove these claims to be false or inaccurate.

1. The York City School Board claims that New Hope failed to file Statements of Financial Interest York City School District has been orally claiming New Hope has committed ‘fiscal violations’, but the actual York City Finding of Fact states, “New Hope Board of Trustees failed to file financial interest statements”. The claim of financial interest statements and financial due diligence are two separate arguments.

The Facts Regarding Financial Due Diligence: The York City School Board is required by law per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, to review all of New Hope Academy Charter School’s Annual Audits and Annual Reports, which are submitted by August 1st each year. The Charter Authorizer’s yearly review of the Charter School’s Annual Reports and Financial Statements should provide them with the information necessary to oversee and evaluate the school’s program, and guide the renewal process.

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Education, Charter School Law, Page 21, Section 17-1728-A Available at: http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/charter_school_regulations/7359/the_pennsylvania_charter_school_law/508171

• New Hope Academy submitted independent financial and academic audit reports to The York City School Board every year. The York City School Board never reported any concerns about the financial management or academic management of the school despite requests for feedback from New Hope Academy Charter School. • In 2010, The York City School Board voted and approved New Hope Academy Charter School to expand its charter to include 6th grade. • In 2011, The York City School Board voted and approved New Hope Academy Charter School to add 5th grade and Performing Arts. • In the same school year (2011-2012), The York City School Board voted and denied renewal of the charter for New Hope Academy Charter School. THE FINDING OF FACT VS FICTION | 04


New Hope Academy Board of Trustees required New Hope Academy to be audited by an independent contractor annually and required that the school meet and exceed financial standards and best practices. The New Hope Academy Board of Trustees, without the support of The York City School Board, as required by law, ensured all deficiencies were addressed, no matter how minor.

As an example, the testimony of Independent Auditor Ed Wagoner, CPA with S.F. and Company states:

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According to Ed. Wagoner’s testimony, minor deficiencies are a ‘normal’ part of nonprofit organizations in their early years. A review of York City School District’s audits supports the fact that even existing organizations have both minor, and in the cases below, more significant findings.

According to the Pennsylvania Auditor General’s Audit of York City School District the Audit Findings included: 2005-2006 Finding No. 1: Membership Reporting Errors Resulted in $134,946 Net Underpayment of Subsidies of Reimbursements. As of 2012 this issue was not resolved Finding No. 2: Certification Deficiencies 2012 – Loss of subsidy Finding No. 3: Transportation Reimbursement Overpayment 2012 – Implemented corrections Finding No. 4. Possible Conflict of Interest Transactions 2012 – State Ethic’s Commission investigation is being conducted Finding No. 5: District Files Lacked Evidence of Valid Bus Drivers Qualification. 2012 - Implemented corrections

2012 Finding No. 1: In Accurate Documentation Resulted In Questionable Reimbursements of 9.3 million dollars. Finding No. 2: Certification Deficiencies Observation: The York City School Board Will Pay an Estimated $326,354 as a Result of Prematurely Terminating the Superintendent’s Employment Contract. THE FINDING OF FACT VS FICTION | 08


Source: Audit Findings from the Pennsylvania Auditor General’s 2005-2006 and 2012 Audit of the School District of the City of York Available at: http://www.auditorgen.state.pa.us/Reports/School/schSDoftheCityofYork032912.pdf

Furthermore, in 2013, an audit of New Hope Academy was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The York City School Board denied the inclusion of this information into the record.

The Internal Revenue Service audit summary states:

IRS Audit Summary S&F Company 2013

Facts About Financial Interest Statements: Financial Interest statements are completed annually by the New Hope Academy Board of Trustees. These statements are maintained in a file by the New Hope Academy Board Secretary. When brought to the attention of the New Hope Academy Charter School, Board of Trustees that a few of these statements were missing, the Board of Trustees immediately corrected this oversight and filed these statements. These documents were submitted to The York City School Board, but were denied addition into the record. It should be noted that The York City School Board misplaced several of the alleged ‘missing statements’ sent by New Hope Academy Charter School. Although offered by New Hope Academy Charter School, York City refused to put a corrective action plan into place, similar to the plan provided to them by the Pennsylvania Auditor General, based on results of their own audit.

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Management Agreement between Three Cord Inc. and New Hope Academy Charter School The York City School Board has cited “the management agreement, and lease agreement” as evidence of a lack of fiduciary responsibility on the part of the New Hope Academy Board of Trustees and rationale for non-renewal of its charter. York City School District made these points in spite of knowledge that these documents were a portion of the charter’s approval by The York City School Board and submitted to both The York City School Board and its attorney on, or around, February 9, 2007 for review prior to New Hope Academy Charter School’s charter approval. Despite knowledge of this document, as shown by their time stamped receipt, and approval of these documents, York City continued to claim this as point of fact. Notice of additional information provided to The York City School Board to be included with New Hope Academy Charter School’s charter application.

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The York City School Board further substantiated these claims of fiduciary irresponsibility by citing the management agreement between Three Cord Inc. and New Hope Academy Charter School, despite knowledge that the management agreement was modeled after management agreements held by two separate charter schools within The York City School District. It is important to note, however, that the fee provided for in the management agreement between Three Cord Inc. and New Hope Academy Charter School, is less than in the previously mentioned agreements held by other local charters within The York City School District. Notice provided to The York City School Board and its counsel regarding content used to develop the management agreement between Three Cord Inc. and New Hope Academy Charter School

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2. The York City School Board claims that New Hope failed to meet student performance standards. The main argument presented by The York City School Board is that New Hope Academy is underperforming schools within their district. In fact, they go as far as saying that their schools ‘consistently outperformed New Hope Academy Charter School in EVERY academic achievement area in 2012…’, but this is simply not true!

The school’s attorney Allison Peterson in her brief to the State Charter Schools Appeal Board dated November 12, 2013 blatantly misrepresented the truth when she stated: Page 7: “Every single (YCSD) school scored higher on indicators of academic achievement”. (New Hope Academy outperformed three of the YCDS schools in Writing including McKinley, Goode, and Jackson despite these schools not servicing the same grade level students and including students in grades K-8.) Actual Score Comparison: 2012 PSSA Scores for The York City School District and New Hope Academy Charter School

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Source: Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Academic Achievement Report: 2011-2012. Available at http://paAdequate Yearly Progress.emetric.net

York City School District’s William Penn Senior High School is in Corrective Action 7. According to their THE PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION School Report Card, in 2012, 32% of their students were proficient or above in Math and 33% were proficient or above in Reading. In 2005 51% of their students scored proficient or above in Math and 65% scored proficient or above in Reading. This equates to a loss of 19% in Math proficiency and a 32% loss in Reading proficiency in 6 years.

PVASS: Showing Academic Growth According to The York City School Boards’ witness Dr. Hessel, “PVAAS stands for Pennsylvania valued-added. And it really is an excellent way to judge how school programs and instruction might be going.” (2/23/12 N.T. 20-22, 124)

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Measuring Adequate Yearly Progress: Attendance ADEQUATE YEARLY PROGRESS Attendance Rates New Hope Academy Charter School

Hannah Penn Middle School

Edgar Fahs Smith Middle School

York City School District

Attendance 2012

93%

72%

32%

87%

Met AYP Attendance Requirements

Yes

No

No

No

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Academic Achievement Report: 2011-2012. Available at http://paAdequate Yearly Progress.emetric.net

Measuring Adequate Yearly Progress: Graduation According to The Pennsylvania Department of Education, from 2009-2011, 263 children have dropped out of The York City School District compared to one (1) child from New Hope Academy Charter School.

2012 Graduation Rates New Hope Academy Charter School

William Penn

State

Graduation Percentage

93%

74%

83%

Met AYP Attendance Requirements

Yes

No

No

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Academic Achievement Report: 2011-2012. Available at: http://paAdequateYearly Progress.emetric.net

Charter School Law States: Section 1728-A, Annual Reports and Assessments, of PA School Laws and Rules states, “The local board of school directors shall annually assess whether each charter school is meeting the goals of its charter and shall conduct a comprehensive review prior to granting a five (5) year renewal of the charter. This review according to the Department of Education includes academic achievement, school design, school management, and improvement planning. AT NO POINT IN 5 YEARS DID YORK CITY QUESTION NEW HOPE ACADEMY’S ACADEMIC PROGRESS. IN FACT, 2011-2012 YCSD ALLOWED NEW HOPE TO EXPAND TO INCLUDE 5TH GRADE AND PERFOMING ARTS. LATER THAT YEAR THEY VOTED NOT TO RENEW THE CHARTER. THE FINDING OF FACT VS FICTION | 15


3. The York City School Board claims that New Hope violated its admission’s policy. York City School District and its counsel, Ms. Peterson, cited that New Hope Academy Charter School materially violated its charter by failing to comply with the admissions policy. At no point in time did York City School District or its counsel attempt to clarify the revision to the admissions policy that was a part of the amended documents of the ‘approved charter’. This lack of clarification was exemplified by the testimony of their staff that they possessed and reviewed these documents. In fact, York City School District council accused the New Hope Academy Board of ‘not following proper protocols’ when they voted in May of 2007, to ensure New Hope Academy Charter School’s written policies, in regards to admission of students aligned with the ‘approved charter’, which was proper practice. During the February hearings: Julie Torres, executive assistant to the assistant superintendent, testified that The York City School District maintains accurate records of all charter school applications and approvals that would include amendments to the application. (2/23/12 N.T. 7-25, 86) Document proving submission of additional information to be added to the application for New Hope Academy Charter School.

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Stacey Henderson, child accounting representative for The York City School District, testified that she reviewed all of the admissions documents for New Hope Academy Charter School to determine if there were any provisions for admissions and testified that New Hope Academy Charter School admissions policy stated that there was a 10 day window for enrollment. (2/23/12 N.T. 4-25, 149)

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Ms. Peterson, counsel for The York City School Board, does finally acknowledge her awareness of the amendments to the approved application in The York City School Board’s answer to the application for stay of non-renewal pending appeal (November 2013, 33(e) page 14), when she references to the management agreement that was included as a part of the revised application:

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Document proving submission and receipt of the Addendum to the New Hope Academy Charter School’s application.

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4. The York City School Board claims that New Hope Academy Charter School violated laws governing truancy and student attendance reporting. York City School District claims that New Hope Academy failed to report attendance violations in a timely fashion. This is directly refuted by the testimony given by the District. Based on a testimony dated March 6, 2012, the attendance officer for The York City School Board states:

York City School District Council states in the Finding of Fact dated June 25, 2012, “#105 - New Hope Academy Charter School did not present any records that dispute the records identified by {the York City School District’s attendance officer} during her testimony.” It would appear, based on the testimony of The York City School District’s attendance officer, that no additional documentation was needed to dispute the record, as they were not recorded and accounted for by The York City School District until two months following their submittal. THE FINDING OF FACT VS FICTION | 20


York City School District Council states in the Finding of Fact dated June 25, 2012, “#103 - “In some cases the request for the issuance of first legal notice came more than one month and in some cases more than six months after the student’s third unlawful absence or equivalent....In other cases, legal notices subsequent to the first legal notice were not requested by NHAC for months after they should have been requested.” Testimony from The York City School District’s attendance officer states:

Based on the above testimony, it is not possible to determine when these documents were received by The York City School District. THE FINDING OF FACT VS FICTION | 21


To add to this, York City School District Council states in the Finding of Fact dated June 25, 2012, “#104 - No one ever informed {the York City School District’s attendance officer} that the submission of the forms was being delayed due to the implementation of a Truancy Elimination Plan.” Per policy set forth by The York City School District, a Truancy Elimination Plan must be in place prior to citation. The York City School Board never requested copies or information on these plans for five years.

Based on the above testimony, Truancy Elimination Plans were not required to be submitted.

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5. The York City School Board claims that New Hope Academy failed to properly file their approval for Alternative Education for Disruptive Youth Programming. In 2007, Alternative Education Program approval was necessary for schools to receive grant funding from the state of Pennsylvania. New Hope attempted to apply to Pennsylvania Department of Education for Alternative Education for Disruptive Youth programming approval, but was verbally notified by the Department of Education that “as a charter school, New Hope Academy was not eligible for this program, and could not apply.” In 2011, the Department of Education changed the requirements for Alternative Education for Disruptive Youth programming approval. This change was confusing for many schools. “Failure to secure approvals for these programs has resulted in potential legal concerns for some districts and others have received penalties to their instructional subsidy payments for students placed in Alternative Education for Disruptive Youth programs.” Intermediate Unit #15, April 2, 2013 Alternative Education for Disruptive Youth Update.

Drew Schuckman, of the Department of Education, attested to the possible confusion caused by this change in policy during his testimony.

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Challenge Academy has serviced over six school districts since it’s opened its doors in 2007. New Hope did secure the proper approval for its Alternative Education for Disruptive Youth programming with the Department of Education, however this approval was denied admission into the record by The York City School Board.

6. The York City School Board claims that New Hope requests for student records were prohibited by law. There are no active arguments in The York City School Board’s current appeal dealing with student record requests. In its history, no students were ever denied enrollment at NHACS based on request of records.

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Additional Presentation of Facts The York City School Board has stated that the reasons for the recommended non-renewal have nothing to do with their current financial status. “The recommended closure of New Hope Academy does not financially benefit York City School District.”

However, according to their own document, The York City School Board’s response to New Hope’s request for Stay states: “From a business perspective, a January 15, 2014 closure of New Hope Academy Charter School, provides a vital certainty for the School District, in terms of its continued operations under this Plan. The January 15, 2014 closure would permit the School District to continue meeting the requirements of the Plan in this initial and crucial year of the Plan’s implementation.” -David Meckely, #8, Page 2 Verification of Dave Meckley dated November 12, 2013

According to Ms. Peterson, on page 10 of The York City School Board’s response, “There will, in fact, be a financial benefit to the School District as a result of New Hope’s closure, because the reality is that it costs more to pay a charter school for a student than it does to educate a child in a School District classroom. This is true even with the School District having to re-open a school building, hire more staff, purchase more educational equipment, etc...” However, based on the response from the community, and the students and families that would be affected by legal battles between the charter school and its local governing school district, are not in the best interest of the children. For example, New Hope had 9 incidents reported on their 2012 school safety report. While this is 9 too many, this still equates to 99.9% fewer incidents, in comparison to surrounding local schools. In 2006, the York City community fought for a safe school and found one with New Hope. The information presented below documents reported incidents within The York City School District during 2006 and 2012.

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Inadequate Yearly Progress: 1966-2012 What we have come to know about urban schools is not surprising, and the schools within York City are no exception. It has been almost 60 years since the landmark case of Brown vs. the Board of Education and little has changed in regards to our urban children’s opportunity to access a quality education. Billions of dollars have been spent attempting to rectify school systems, with the knowledge that educated adults thrive, and when adults thrive, so does our economy and society. In other words, fix the achievement gap. Focus on educational outcomes rather than result oriented outcomes (i.e. Singular Assessment Percentage Scores), and we will become a better equipped society with a balanced national budget. The following table shows the percentages taken from a study conducted in 1966, showing that limited progress has been made by The York City School District in the areas of graduation rates and college enrollment, as well as other measures of student academic performance and achievement.

The past three years 263 children have dropped out of York City School District and 1 child dropped out of New Hope Academy. One drop out will end up costing an average tax payer $292,000. This means the true cost is over $76 million in York City. -2009, Drop Nation Report

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*Data compiled from a study completed in 1966 on equitable access to education and opportunity. Coleman, J. S., Campbell, E. Q., Hobson, C. J., McPartland, J., Mood, A. M., Weinfeld, F. D., & York, R. L. (1966). Equality of Educational Opportunity. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. http://www.education.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/state_report_cards/7438

Collaboration, Not Closure While there have been dramatic changes in our urban schools, they have not been progressively positive. New Hope Academy is a school that has defied the odds and disparities found in urban education. The York City School District should not be forced to close their charter schools in order to secure financial viability. New Hope Academy and its’ Board of Trustees continues to believe that through collaboration we can provide solutions to: • Ensure that all of our schools are successful in graduating responsible, well-equipped students • Allow all of our children to have access to the arts • Give all of our children a greater opportunity to go on to college • Provide every York City student with equitable access to a quality education It will be a challenge, yet it is one that New Hope Academy Charter School welcomes fully. It is our responsibility to adequately educate, prepare and equip our next generations of leaders. We have begun the journey in the classrooms of New Hope Academy Charter School. Don’t close our doors!

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Appendices: Appendix A - Testimonies: Schuckman, Shropshire, Torres and Henderson, Wagoner Appendix B - IRS audit Appendix C – New Hope Amendment Documentation Appendix D - Scores for PVASS Appendix E - Scores for PSSA Appendix F - ACLU Report Appendix G - Coleman Study Report Appendix H - 2012 Safety Report

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New Hope Fact vs Fiction  

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