Board Should Not Deregulate Renaissance Charters

Deletion of Policy 141 Cedes Power to Harrisburg 

by Lisa Haver

In 2010, the state-controlled School Reform Commission  approved the Renaissance Policy portion of Superintendent Arlene Ackerman’s “Imagine 2014”.  Policy 141 escalated  the privatization of public schools and the diversion of taxpayer funds to privately-managed schools.  The companies awarded contracts to manage  those schools promised to “effect dramatic change”  at “chronically underperforming schools”.  The District, over the past ten years, has spent hundreds of millions on Renaissance schools while getting very little in return. Although the Initiative stipulated  that “Renaissance Schools will be granted greater autonomy in exchange for increased accountability”, there has actually been less accountability, as seen by the repeated renewals of Renaissance charters that fail to meet basic standards, let alone surpass District performance.  

Much of the funding for this method of charter expansion came from a major grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Great Schools Compact Grant, accepted by the SRC in 2011 without public deliberation. The Philadelphia School Partnership advanced its privatization agenda while acting as manager and fiscal agent of the Great Schools Compact Committee, whose meetings were not open to the public.

Charter companies took on management of the neighborhood schools with the understanding that the District could exercise its “discretion” to renew or non-renew the school at the end of its five-year term. Policy 141 also allows the District to intervene at any time during the Renaissance charter term if necessary. 

This review shows that despite very low performance, in several cases with test scores and SPRs lower than those pre-takeover,  and lower than both District and similar schools, Renaissance schools have been  routinely renewed. The school communities at the targeted schools were promised two things: that the new operators would operate as a catchment area school, and that their children would receive a better education.  The information in this report shows  that neither of those promises were kept.

District data shows that Renaissance charters, across the board,  have not achieved anything close to dramatic change.  Enrollment figures show that many no longer operate as neighborhood schools.  When a government agency pays private companies for a service, and that service is not provided, at what point do we call that fraud?  

But it was not just the individual school communities who were cheated.  The diversion of  District funds to pay for bloated administrations,  exorbitant CEO salaries, stranded costs, and high management fees has meant fewer resources for all of Philadelphia’s public schools. 

The use of standardized test scores as a justification for takeover resulted in a ramping up of a teach-to-the-test curriculum, with computerized test prep courses replacing enriching electives. 

Parents and educators fought the loss of their schools to private managers. Parents, students and teachers from Creighton Elementary came to SRC meetings for months, even submitting their own school improvement plan, in order to stop the Universal takeover. Wister parents and community members organized to stop Mastery, and when they proved that the data used to label Wister as “failing” was incorrect, Dr. Hite withdrew his proposal, saying that  Wister should stay under District control. But unethical lobbying by Mastery and an SRC vote, seen by many as a conflict of interest,  overruled parents’ wishes. When parents at Steel and Munoz-Marin schools were given a vote in 2014, both overwhelmingly rejected takeovers by charter companies. That was the first and last time the District gave parents a vote.  The fear of takeover in struggling schools led to an emphasis on raising test scores above all, not on providing children with a happy and creative school experience. District schools posted daily countdowns to PSSA test days both outside and inside buildings, making it the first thing children saw each day. Schools feared being taken over by charter companies. Finding themselves on the Renaissance list was devastating. The schools who lost out paid a heavy price. They lost teachers and staff who had served the school for  years. Barriers to enrollment kept area students from remaining. The school community was dispersed, and they were no longer part of the District’s network. No-excuses discipline policies meant suspension and expulsion of students without due process. A rigid, no-excuses, test-driven curriculum was imposed on schools that actually needed real reforms like more support staff, smaller class sizes, and  more reading instructors. 

Renaissance schools are located  in just 13 of the city’s 48 zip codes, most in  West Philadelphia and North Philadelphia. Some are in Frankford, Grays Ferry and Germantown. No schools in Roxborough, the Far Northeast, or Center City were targeted. 

The data included in this report shows: 

  • 19 of the 21 Renaissance schools have had Achievement scores in the lowest category–Intervene–for the last 3 years   
  • A majority of Renaissance schools have been cited by the CSO for barriers to enrollment
  • A majority of Renaissance schools cited have been cited by the CSO for failure to provide students full due process rights in disciplinary matters 
  • 17 of the 21 Renaissance schools enroll under 75% of their students from the catchment area
  • CEO salaries for five of the six Renaissance companies exceeds $200,000. 
  • Every Renaissance school pays high fees to charter management organizations
  • A pattern of failure to provide adequate services to ELL and Special Education students

The Board has a responsibility to regulate these schools as Renaissance schools. The Board should be reviewing the full record of these schools, including the data and analysis in this report, to see whether the operators have improved these schools.  Clearly they have not,  and the Board has a duty to take back control. The charter companies do not own these public schools. They belong to the people of Philadelphia. The operators have failed to improve these schools. That is not a reason for the Board to deregulate the Renaissance charters–just the opposite. The Board should  invoke its authority, as stated in Policy 141, to return these schools to District control. The Policy grants the District the “discretion” to not renew any Renaissance charter. Any move by the Board to absolve itself of this local control would represent a betrayal of the people whose schools were confiscated in what turned out to be a bait-and-switch campaign.

Note:   All data in this report is taken from District school profile reports (SPR), charter timelines, and the most recent renewal evaluations.  Those without a posted renewal evaluation cite data from the most recent Annual Charter Evaluation (ACE). CEO salaries and charter management organization (CMO) fees are taken from the most recent (2018) IRS 990 forms.   Achievement SPR scores reflect the most objective academic information; it reports the number of students reaching the Proficient level in Math and Reading. (An in-depth analysis of Mastery Wister and GLA Huey will be issued in a separate report.) The School District’s FY20 Quarterly report gives the annual SDP allotment for the charter schools.

This report was written and compiled by Lisa Haver, Deborah Grill, Diane Payne, Lynda Rubin and Coleman Poses.

Aspira Olney High School

  • 100 W. Duncannon St.    19120
  • Grades 9-12
  • Enrollment:  1989                    Students from catchment:   39%
  • Opened as charter:  2011
  • Poverty 72%    Students with IEPs:   30%     ELL:  32%
  • SPR Achievement last 3 years:   0%–0%–0%          Intervene
  • Keystone Proficiency rates:  ELA  13%     Math  4% 
  • Attendance 95% of days or more:   9%  
  • Graduating in 4 years:   68%                      College matriculation  27%
  • College and Career ready:    7%
  • SDP Allotment: $27,167,382
  • CEO Salary: $234,692   (The 2018 990 also lists a Superintendent at $233,350.) 
  • Charter Management Organization (CMO) Fee: $1,031,575 paid to Aspira Inc. (Aspira Inc. representatives were questioned during non-renewal hearings about why their management fees far exceeded rates of others and why their fees had doubled since the Renaissance takeover.)
  • CSO recommended  non-renewal in 2016; after 4 years of hearings and legal action, still run by Aspira.  2017 update reiterates DOES NOT meet in ALL categories; financial improprieties cited. District has spent, and continues to spend, millions in legal fees as Aspira has sued against non-renewal action. 
  • Note: Aspira Inc. CEO made news when he was forced to settle several sexual harassment suits, one for $350K.
  • Aspira Inc. has been investigated by the FBI, US Attorney, and PA Auditor General.
  • Note: In 2018, Camelot Schools LLC was paid $996,991 by Aspira Olney  as “independent contractor”, raising questions of how Aspira was dealing with student discipline issues. 
  • SDP lists 2 full-time principals.

Aspira Stetson

  • 3200 B. Street 19134
  • Grades 5-8  
  • Opened as charter:  2010
  • Enrollment   887                   Students from Catchment:  65%
  • Poverty: 35%            SpEd    23%        ELL: 29%
  • SPR Achievement last 3 years:   0%–0%–0% Intervene
  • Keystone Proficiency:  ELA 3%   Math  4%  
  • Attendance 95% of days or more:  30% 
  • SDP Allotment:  $12, 894,112
  • Recommended for non-renewal 2016; Did not meet standards in any of 3 major categories.
  • Note: See Aspira Olney above re financial improprieties. Renewal evaluation cited school  for barriers to enrollment (e.g., asking for physical and dental records); lack of due process (Aspira code of conduct not aligned with District code);  Sunshine Act violations. Aspira was cited for, and admitted to, funneling part of District allotment for its two Renaissance schools to its other charters, De Hostos and Pantoja. 
  • CEO Salary: $234,692.   (The 2018 990 also lists a Superintendent at $233,350.) 
  • CMO Fee: $890,766 to Aspira, Inc.

Global Leadership Academy at Huey

  • 5200 Pine St., 19143
  • Grades  K-8
  • Opened as Renaissance Charter:   2016
  • Enrollment:  616                  Students from catchment:  54%
  • Students with IEP: 16.5%    Poverty: 81%          ELL:   0%
  • SPR Achievement last 3 years: 1%–0%–1%     Intervene
  • Attendance 95% of days or more:   43%
  • Renewal Evaluation: First renewal 2021;  data below from 2019 ACE
  • Does Not Meet standards for all 3 core subjects for last 3 years for PSSA proficiency; Does Not Meet in most Financial categories; BELOW all similar schools and SDP schools  in ALL core subjects for past three years; higher chronic absenteeism than SDP last year; Sunshine Act violations in Organization. 
  • SDP Allotment: $7,751,713
  • CMO fee: Not listed in 2018 or 2017 990s; however, GLA 2018 IRS 990 indicated a payment  due from Global SW/Huey to GLA Management Company  in the amount of $848, 213
  • Huey CEO Salary: $327,335
  • Global Leadership Academy CEO: $403,084

Lindley Academy Charter School at Birney

  • 900 Lindley Avenue 19141
  • Grades K-8   
  • Enrollment: 750               Students from catchment:  53%
  •  Converted to Renaissance in 2015 but opened as Charter School in 2011    
  • Poverty: 81%    Students with IEP:  19%    ELL:   2.1%              
  • Attendance 95% of days of more:  56%
  • SPR Achievement past 3 years: 18%–11%–8%   Intervene
  • Renewal Evaluation 2017:  5-year renewal w/conditions: There is no Academic score b/c the school changed charter operator in the 15/16 school year.  The CSO Renewal Report stated “no data available”.  Standards met: 
    • Organization: No Financial: No
  • Amendment: 2017 Name change (It is listed on the Charter school page as Lindley Academy Charter School @Birney but  the renewal report states its legal name is General David B. Birney Charter School)
  • Birney cited for barriers to enrollment (asking for IEP status, race and dental records), failure to inform students of due process rights, and expulsion for minor offenses.
  • CEO Salary: $168,920 
  • CMO Fee: $584,820 to American Paradigm.
  • Per American Paradigm’s 2019 990:  Chief Talent Officer  $123,196; Chief Academic Officer $186,172; Director of Pupil Services $150,831; Chief of Staff  $139,610; Director of Pupil Services $156,0831.
  • Yearly Allotment: $9,793,303
  • Note:  ELL enrollment appears low considering location in Logan. 

Mastery Cleveland

  • 3701 N. 19th Street 19140
  • Grades   K-8 
  • Opened as charter:   2012
  • Enrollment   734                Students from catchment area:  62%
  • Attendance 95% of days or more:   51%
  • Students with IEPs:   22%    Poverty:  83%      ELL:  1%
  • SPR Achievement last 3 years: 12%–12%–13%       Intervene
  • Renewal Evaluation 2016-17 (Board renewed in September 2019) Met Standards:
    • Academics:  No          Organization:  No          Financial: Yes
  • SDP allotment: $10,369,759
  • CMO Fee: $788,670 to Mastery Charters
  • CEO Salary: $261,154
  • Note: Renewal evaluation cited school for barriers to enrollment (asking SSN #s), a Code of Conduct that did not align with District’s, lack of due process, Sunshine Act violations.

Mastery Clymer

  • 1201 W. Rush Street 19133
  • Grades  K-6       
  • Enrollment:  539          Students from Catchment: 50%   (65% in Grade 1 to 42% in Grade 6)
  • Converted to Renaissance Charter:  2011 
  • Poverty: 88%    Students with IEPs: 22%     ELL: 2%   
  • SPR Achievement last 3 years:  17%–18%–16%             Intervene
  • Attendance 95% of days or more: 35%
  • SDP Allotment: $7,782,189
  • CEO Salary: $261,154
  • CMO Fee: $633,113 to Mastery Charters
  • Renewal Evaluation 2015-16: Recommended 5-year renewal with conditions.   Met Standards: 
    • Academics: No        Organization:  No    Financial: Yes 
  • Mastery cited for barriers to enrollment (asking for SSNs)  and failure to inform students of due process rights (manifestation process information)
  • Amendments: 2015 Grade reconfiguration  
  • Note:  After the grade configuration amendment SPR scores went up considerably, then dropped dramatically in 2018-19.  
  • Clymer had become a center for physically handicapped students in the years before the Renaissance conversion.  Ramps and other accommodations had been added. After the Mastery takeover, no longer a center for those students.

Mastery Douglass

  • 2118 W. Norris St.  19121
  • Grades:    K-8   
  • Opened as a charter: 2010  (Management transferred to Mastery from Young Scholars in 2015)
  • Enrollment: 679       Students from catchment: 49%  ( 65% in first grade to 41% in 8th grade)
  • Attendance 95% if days or more: 31%
  • Students with IEP: 23%    Poverty: 86%        ELL: 0%
  • SPR Achievement last 3 years: 5%–6%–15%          Intervene
  • Renewal Evaluation/ACE  2019-20:  CSO recommended:  5 year renewal with conditions. Met standards: 
    • Academic:  No         Organization:  No     Financial: Yes
  • Mastery cited for failure to fulfill legal requirements to Students with Special Needs.
  • SDP Allotment: $9,885,409
  • CMO Fee: $820,103 to Mastery Charters
  • CEO Salary: $261,154

Mastery Gratz   

  • 1798 W. Hunting Park Ave   19140
  • Grades  7-12  
  • Opened as charter:   2011
  • Enrollment:  1272                              Students from catchment:   21%
  • Attendance 90% of days or more:  39%
  • Students with IEP:   33%    Poverty:  74%    ELL:   1%
  • HS SPR Achievement last 3 years:  8%–1%–2%            Intervene    
  • College/career ready  15%–12%–15%
  • MS SPR Achievement last 3 years:   9%–15%–8%         Intervene
  • Renewal evaluation 2016, renewal with conditions,  met standards: 
    • Academics: No          Organization: No           Financial: Yes
  • Mastery cited for barriers to enrollment (recruiting outside catchment).
  • Amendments:  Middle school grades 7 and 8 added to high school  in  2015 
  • SDP Allotment: $21,653,926
  • CEO Salary: $261,154
  • CMO Fee: $1,804,497 to Mastery Charters
  • Note: SPR shows a high rate of both in-school 99% and out-of-school 71% suspensions last year.
  • This school has 8 administrators including 3 principals, for 1272 students,  in contrast to Edison HS which has 3 administrators for 1077 students.

Mastery Mann

  • 5376 W. Berks St.  19131
  • Grades:  K-6   
  • Opened as a charter: 2010
  • Enrollment: 557                  Students from catchment: 75%
  • Attendance 95%  of the days or more: 53%
  • Students with IEPs: 18%    Poverty: 69%        ELL:1%
  • SPR Achievement for last 3 years:  35%–30%–31%       Watch
  • Renewal Evaluation: 5-Year Renewal; Standards met:
    • Academic: No         Organization:  No        Financial: Yes 
  • SDP Allotment: $7,077,020
  • CMO Fee: $564,060 to Mastery Charters
  • CEO Salary: $261,154

Mastery Harrity

  • 5601 Christian St. 19143
  • Grades:  K-8   
  • Opened as a charter: 2010   
  • Enrollment: 823                              Students from Catchment: 66%
  • Attendance 95%  of  days or more: 48%
  • Students with IEPs: 20%    Poverty: 79%        ELL: 2%
  • SPR Achievement last 3 years:  19%–21%–21%   Intervene
  • Renewal Evaluation: 2019-20, 5-year renewal with conditions; standards met:   
    • Academic:  No        Organization:   No          Financial:  Yes  
  • Mastery cited for not fulfilling legal requirements to students with IEPs. 
  • SDP Allotment: $11,474,989
  • CEO Salary: $261,154
  • CMO Fee: $910,202 to Mastery Charters
  • Note: 990 lists 3 principals on payroll

Mastery Pastorius-Richardson

  • 5650 Sprague St.  19138
  • Grades:    K-8
  • Opened as a charter: 2013
  • Enrollment: 620         Catchment: 68% (drops from 79% in grade 1 to 55% by grade 8)
  • Attendance 95%  of the days or more: 42%
  • IEP: 25%    Poverty: 80%        ELL: 0%
  • SPR Achievement: 8%-11%-15%            Intervene
  • Renewal Evaluation: 2017,  5 year-renewal recommended (Board has not yet renewed)
  • Standards met: 
    • Academic:  No        Organization: Yes                  Financial: Yes
  • PSSA scores in all core subjects in 3 years after takeover show that this school failed to meet or exceed District schools. Mastery cited for lack of information in ELL process and notification, lack of due process (out of school suspension policy, expulsion practice does not align to District Code of Conduct, failure to provide full information on manifestation process). 
  • Amendments: Although Mastery changed the name, there is no indication of an amendment on the District website in CSO or Board records.
  • SDP Allotment: $8, 642,224                     
  • CEO Salary: $261,154 
  • CMO Fee:  $642,965 to Mastery Charters

Mastery Charter School at Smedley

  • 1790 Bridge St., 19124
  • Grades:   K-6
  • Opened as charter:  2010
  • Enrollment: 795                   Students from catchment: 67% 
  • Attendance: 95% of days or more:  55%                      
  • Students with IEP:  22 %     Poverty:  82%          ELL:  4%
  • SPR Achievement last 3 years:    28%–28%–35%           Watch
  • Renewal 2015, 5-year with conditions. Standards met:
    • Academics: Yes           Organization: No             Financial:  Yes
  • SDP Allotment: $10,865,494
  • CMO Fee: $824,080 to Mastery Charters
  • CEO Salary: $261, 154

Mastery Wister

  • 67 E. Bringhurst Street       19144
  • Grades   K- 5  
  • Opened as charter:  2016             Students from catchment:  68%
  • Students with IEP:  23%     Poverty:   87%        ELL:  2%
  • Attendance 95% of days or more:  42%
  • SPR Achievement last 3 years:    7%–2%–9%            Intervene 
  • Renewal Evaluation: in 2021 cohort.
  • ACE data:  past 2 years show  Math, Reading, and Science lower than SDP and comparable schools; Attendance rates lower than SDP and comparable schools. 
  • SDP Allotment: $6,776,548
  • CMO Fee: $471,871 to Mastery Charters
  • CEO Salary: $261,154
  • Note: SDP data showed that Wister was in the Watch category before takeover; now in Intervene. 

Memphis Street Academy Charter School at J.P. Jones

  • Address: 2950 Memphis Street    19134
  • Grades: 5-8   
  • Enrollment: 772        Students from catchment: 88%
  • Opened as charter: 2012
  • Students with IEP: 27.4%    Poverty: 76%          EL: 14.6%
  • SPR  Achievement last 3 years: 1%–2%–1%       Intervene
  • Attendance 95% of days or more: 37% 
  • SDP Allotment: $10,078,123
  • CEO Salary: $190,381
  • CMO  Fees: $828,191 to American Paradigm; 990 lists legal fees to Sand & Saidel at $176,253; fees to Santilli & Thompson for business management $157,819.
  • See Lindley Charter School entry for the 4 six-figure salaried American Paradigm employees listed on their 2019 990 page.)
  • Renewal Evaluation 2017:  CSO recommended Non-renewal; Board renewed in June 2018 with agreement including surrender clause, which stipulated that school had to meet conditions in all categories in 2019-20  or surrender its charter and return to District in June 2021.  Standards met in CSO evaluation: 
    • Academic: No          Organization:  No           Financial:  No  
  • Memphis Street cited for failure to provide adequate services to ELL students, barriers to enrollment (application included fields for race and IEP status) and  lack of due process (Code of Conduct omits information on due process rights, Code does not align with Renaissance charter Code, Code allows for expulsion for minor offenses such as repeated use of profanity, Code does not articulate conditions for manifestation). 
  • Note: In the six years listed for SPR Achievement scores, this school was never above 2% ; one year it scored 0%. 

The Philadelphia Charter School for Arts and Sciences at H.R. Edmunds

  • 1197 Haworth Street    19124   
  • Grades: K-8   
  • Enrollment: 1,015                 Students from catchment: 74%
  • Opened as a Charter: 2012
  • Students with IEP: 22.6%    Poverty: 64.9%        EL: 11.6%
  • Attendance 95% of days or more: 57%
  • SPR Achievement last 3 years:     13%–12%–16%          Intervene
  • SDP Allotment: $14,818,332
  • CEO Salary:    $125,210
  • Renewal Report 2016: CSO recommendation  5-year renewal with conditions. Standards met: 
    • Academic: No        Organizational: No        Financial: Yes
  • Edmunds cited for several violations in ELL policy and practice, lack of due process rights  (Code of Conduct does not identify due process rights, administration has wide discretion to recommend expulsion).  
  • CMO Fee: $1,124,195  to String Theory Schools.
  • Also:  $380,618 paid to Brett, Dinovi & Assoc. LLC,  professional services; $244,934 to Sand & Saidel, Legal fees.
  • Note:  The String Theory Management Company’s 2018 990 shows 7 full-time administrators:  CEO $262,687; CIO $209,907; Director of Technology $130,435;  Principal $147,280;  Facilities Director $107,965; Curriculum Director $183,104;  Psychologist $124,246.
  • Note: The Board of Education cited String Theory’s substandard performance at Edmunds as one reason they  (twice) denied the company’s application for a new charter (Joan Myers Brown) in 2019.

Universal Charter School at Alcorn

  • 3200 Dickinson Street        19146
  • Grades K-8                         
  • Opened as charter 2013
  • Enrollment: 597                      Students from catchment:   57%
  • SPR Achievement last 3 years:     15%–15%–25%        Intervene
  • Renewal Evaluation 2017: 5-year with conditions; standards met:
    • Academic: No      Organization: No        Financial: No
  • Alcorn cited for violations in ELL notification and services;  barriers to enrollment (recruiting from outside catchment area, in-catchment rate decreased from 84% to 57% in 3 years after takeover), lack of due process (out-of-school suspension policy does not align with District Code, lack of information to students/parents about manifestation process).
  • SDP Allotment: $6,760,791
  • CEO Salary: $209,088
  • CMO Fees: $298,500 to Universal Education Companies  and $179,100 to Universal Community Homes (both were listed as fees for management).

Universal Audenried Promise Neighborhood Charter

  • 3301 Tasker St.         19145
  • HS Grades 9-12
  • Opened as charter:   2011
  • Enrollment:  535                       Students from catchment:  27%
  • Attendance 95% of days or more:  14%  
  • Poverty:  77%        Students with IEPs:  30%        ELL:   4%
  • SPR Achievement last 3 years:  0%–0%–2%          Intervene
  • College and Career ready:  18%
  • Graduation in 4 years: 66% 
  • Keystones:   ELA  27%        Math: 7%
  • Renewal Recommendation 2016 (and 2019 update):  Non-renewal; standards met: 
    • Academics:  No        Organization:  No      Financial:   No   
  • 2016 evaluation cites lack of due process practices.
  • Renewed in 2019 with surrender clause.  
  • Amendment: Name has changed but no record of amendment. 
  • SDP Allotment: $7,953,435 
  • CEO Salary: $209,088
  • CMO Fee: $496,248 to Universal Education Companies

Universal Bluford   

  • 5720 Media St.     19131
  • Grades  K-6 
  • Opened as Charter:  2010   
  • Enrollment:  531                  Students from Catchment 73%
  • Poverty:  77%         Students with IEPs:  20%         ELL:   2%
  • Attendance 95% of days or more:  50%
  • SPR Achievement last 3 years:     20%–18%–20%        Intervene
  • Renewal recommendation 2015:  Non-renewal; standards met:
    • Academics: No     Organization: No     Financial: No
  • Report cites not fulfilling legal obligations to students with Special Needs; not fulfilling legal obligations to ELL students; failure to operate within standards of applicable laws and policies. 
  • 2020 Recommendation Non-Renewal; standards met:  
    • Academic:  No     Organization:  No      Financial:   No 
    • Non-renewal legal hearings scheduled for last two weeks of October 2020.  
  • SDP Allotment: $7,064,677
  • CEO Salary: $209,088
  • CMO Fee: $205,266 to Universal Education Companies

Universal Charter School at Creighton

  • Address: 5401 Tabor Avenue  19120
  • Grades: K-8       
  • Enrollment: 776                Students from catchment: 80%
  • Opened as a Charter: 2012           
  • Students with Poverty:  55.2%    IEP: 13.8%        ELL:  23.8%
  • SPR Achievement last 3 years: 36%–36%– 24%       Watch–Watch–Intervene
  • Attendance 95% of days or more: 55%
  • Renewal Report: 2016/17; CSO recommended  5-year renewal with conditions; standards met:
    • Academic: No     Organizational:  No      Financial: No
  • SDP Allotment: $9,359,289
  • Principal Salary: $209,888
  • CMO Fee: $378,333 to Universal Education Company (UEC)
  • Note: The 2018 990 for UCH lists a president/CEO at $245,726 and a treasurer at $248,299.  The same two people are listed on the UEC but for no salary.

Universal Daroff

  • 5630 Vine St         19139
  • K-8        Catchment: 56%
  • Enrollment:  732                        Students from catchment area:  56%
  • Opened as charter:  2010 
  • Poverty:  81%    Students with IEPs: 20%     ELL:  2%  
  • Attendance 95%  of days or more:  35%
  • SPR Achievement: 7%–3%–4%             Intervene 
  • CSO Renewal recommendation 2015: 5-year renewal with conditions;   Standards met:
    • AcademicYes     Organization: No    Financial:  No
  • Universal cited for failure to meet legal obligations to Students with Special Needs; barriers to enrollment (application in English only, application must be submitted in person); does not operate in accordance with applicable laws and policies).
  • CSO 2020 Recommendation:  Non-renewal; standards met
    • Academic:  No       Organization:  No        Financial:  No
    • Non-renewal legal hearings scheduled for last two weeks of October 2020.
  • SDP Allotment:  $9,139,420
  • CEO Salary: $209,088
  • CMO Fee: $349,292 to Universal Education Companies.

Universal at Vare Stem & Arts Academy

  • 2100 S. 24th St.    19145
  • Grades 5-8                                          
  • Enrollment:  279 (significant decline in past 3 years)  Students in catchment: 67% 
  • Opened as charter:  2011       
  • Poverty:  77%        Students with IEPs:  20%    ELL: 13%
  • Attendance 95% of days or more:  46% 
  • SPR Achievement last 3 years:  7%– 10%–10%      Intervene
  • Renewal recommendation 2016 (and 2018 update):  Non-renewal; Standards met: 
    • Academic: No     Financial:  No   Organization:  No 
  • Number of Special Ed students decreased 8% in 3 years after Universal takeover; expulsion records show that clear interventions were not provided; barriers to enrollment (SSN field on application, enrollment preference given to one school); numerous governance violations. 
  • SRC renewed with surrender clause in June 2018. 
  • SDP Allotment: $3, 654,241
  • CEO Salary: $209,088
  • CMO Fees: $187,125 to Universal Education Companies and $112,275 to Universal Community Homes.