Neshaminy School Board votes to appeal charter school decision

Neshaminy School Board earlier this month voted to appeal a decision from the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, allowing MaST Charter School to open a K-12 school in the district.

The court’s decision followed a years-long battle by Neshaminy to prevent MaST, which operates two campuses in Northeast Philadelphia, from coming into the district.

The Neshaminy board voted for the appeal in a 7-2 decision, which, if approved, would send the case to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

“Neshaminy is the best provider of education to our residents,” Board member Stephen Pirritano, who voted for the appeal, wrote in an email to the Times.

Pirritano testified against the application at the original MaST hearing in Neshaminy before he was a school board member. The original application from MaST was submitted in October 2012.

“I also continue to contend there is no support for MaST Charter outside of the teachers impasse that it was born out of,” Pirritano continued. “That situation was the emphasis for those residents seeking alternative solutions.”

According to documents from the Commonwealth Court, which approved the application in November, The Charter School Appeal Board “disagrees with the (Neshaminy) Board’s findings,” and found that the MaST-Neshaminy program “may serve as a model for other public schools,

“We discern no error in CAB’s conclusion which is supported by substantial record evidence,” the decision from the Commonwealth Court read.

The dissenting voters on the Neshaminy School Board were members Mike Morris and Bob Feather.

“First let me say, I believe Neshaminy School District is a good school district,” Feather said. “Competition creates improvement in my opinion. That makes us work harder, work better to do better.”

Feather said that, to his knowledge, MaST has a “decent” education program, but it does not offer many of the extracurriculars Neshaminy does.

“It’s a principle thing. I believe in competition,” he said. ‘We’re not going to stop charter schools forever.” ••

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