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Catasauqua School Board questions Medical Academy Charter School

By Kris Rile, WFMZ.com Reporter
Published On: Jan 09 2013 07:03:07 AM CST
CATASAUQUA, Pa. -

The Catasauqua School Board looked into the Medical Academy Charter School at its meeting on Tuesday night.

Catasauqua Superintendent Robert Spengler gave a presentation to the board regarding the charter school including the 30 stipulations the district has put on the charter cchool and the several concerns and discrepancies with those stipulations.

According to Spengler, most of the 30 stipulations set by the board are requirements for every charter school per state law.

The biggest concern of Spengler and the board is that there is no integration of medical education in the curriculum at this charter school according to the documentation provided to Spengler from the CEO and principal of the Medical Academy Charter School, Joanna Hughes.

According to Spengler, the basis of the charter school is to integrate medical education into the entire curriculum, including math and history courses, and Catasauqua School District wanted proof of medical partnerships and agreements with surrounding medical facilities.

Spengler has been in contact with Hughes and the charter school’s Chief Operations Officer, Phil Arnold, and has found that there are no formal or informal partnerships or agreements with any medical facilities.

It has also been brought to Spengler’s attention that there are no field trips or career days for the 9th and 10th grade students at this school, which was one of the stipulations set forth by the Catasauqua School Board prior to the school receiving approval.

“They are not delivering what they said that they would,” commented board vice president Carol Cunningham. “That’s the bottom line.”

Along with the lack of medical education integration in the curriculum, the board showed concern with the fact that there is no evidence of a medical knowledge, background, or training for the instructional staff at the school.

Although representatives from the Medical Academy Charter School informed the board prior to the approval of their charter, as well as indicating so on their website, that 100% of their staff will be certified, only 80% of the teachers are certified and 73% of the professional staff are certified, including the school’s nurse according to documentation provided to Spengler.

“We have an obligation as this board to make sure those students are being educated the way that they should be and it doesn’t seem like they are,” stated Cunningham.

A motion was made and approved by the Board to send a notice to the Medical Academy Charter School to receive proof in both writing and in person that they are moving towards a resolution of outstanding issues, including accreditation, status of the lease, training of staff, and integration of medical education in the curriculum within 30 days of the charter school receiving the notice.

If no progress is made within the 30 days, then the Catasauqua School District will begin proceedings to revoke the charter of the Medical Academy Charter School. However, if progress is made but not all requirements have been met, the District will allow 30 more days for the school to finalize all necessary requirements.

Due to the Medical Academy Charter School having a Board of Trustees meeting at the same time as the School Board Meeting, no representatives were present at the Catasauqua Meeting.