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Reading School District severs ties with operator of alternative education program

By 69 News, (follow: @69news), news@wfmz.com
Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:43:42 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 24 2013 05:03:46 PM CST

The Reading School District has decided to part ways with the operator of an alternative education program that is currently under state review.

READING, Pa. -

The Reading School District has decided to part ways with the operator of an alternative education program that is currently under state review.

The school board voted unanimously Wednesday night to terminate the $1.1 million contract it has with Delaware Valley High School, effective Feb. 6.

The for-profit DVHS operates a disciplinary school for up to 125 of the district's 6th through 12th grade students at the old Gateway School on Margaret Street in Reading.

"We are acting in the best interest of our students," the district said in a written statement after the meeting. "We have a transition plan in place for our alternative education services, and that will be communicated to our parents and students."

The school board approved a contract with the Berks County Intermediate Unit to operate the district's alternative education program.

Approximately 50 students in 9th through 12th grades will be educated at the Learning Academy at Alsace in Alsace Township; about 40 students in 6th through 8th grades will attend Thomas Ford Elementary, district officials said.

The district took action as the Pennsylvania Department of Education threatens to revoke its license for the Philadelphia-based Delaware Valley High School for what it called egregious violations. The department's review of DVHS was the result of complaints it received regarding the school's compliance with state law.

State education and district officials followed up with a visit to the school in December and found that students were receiving fewer than three hours of academic instruction per day and that non-academic activities, including a "free for all," were taking place in the afternoons.

The school has also been the scene of numerous fights for which police have been called. The largest was what police described as a riot on Sept. 21 in which two officers were injured and seven students were arrested.

DVHS' owner, David T. Shulick, accused several former school employees, including its one-time director, of inciting violence among students.

State education officials said they found evidence that Delaware Valley administrators directed staff to falsify incident reports and to exclude incidents of violence from daily logs. The school would also dismiss students early on afternoons when their behavior could not be controlled, officials said.