Pa. Alternative School Faces State Crackdown
READING, Pa. (AP) – Pennsylvania education officials are threatening to revoke approval from a school for troubled students because they said it did not provide required academic and counseling programs and failed to tamp down violence.
The for-profit Delaware Valley High School, which has a $1.1 million contract with the Reading School District to run a disciplinary school for 125 students in grades six to 12, received a warning notice from the Department of Education in late December, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The school's owner denies the allegations and said he will respond formally to the department.
State education officials said they found evidence that Delaware Valley administrators directed staff to falsify incident reports and to exclude incidents from daily logs “to conceal the true nature and extent of violence,” the newspaper reported, citing documents it obtained. Employees were told they would be sued if they called police or discussed their concerns with anyone outside the school, the documents said.
Delaware Valley staff members interviewed as part of the department's probe “stated that the environment of this facility is dangerous, not safe for students, and most felt unsafe working there,” according to a report prepared by Drew Schuckman, state coordinator of alternative education programs.
The agency also concluded the Reading School District failed to provide oversight of Delaware Valley.
Under state law, private providers need approval from the education department to run disciplinary programs for students with problems including chronic truancy and fighting. The education agency informed the school's owner, David T. Shulick, that it was moving to revoke the school's approval, ordering him to respond by Thursday and make changes by Jan. 14.
Education department spokesman Tim Eller said the department is taking action now because the violations “were so egregious and threatened the safety of the students.”
Shulick, a lawyer whose Bala Cynwyd-based alternative education company also runs a school in Warminster, defended the Reading school.
“DVHS is prepared to respond to all allegations, and will be doing so in a reply with evidentiary support,” Shulick wrote in an email to the newspaper. “DVHS believes there is no factual or legal basis for the order to show cause. DVHS declines further comment, but will be responding on Monday.”