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The Philadelphia Inquirer
By Martha Woodall; Inquirer Staff Writer

Angered by the Philadelphia School Reform Commission's decision to sell the shuttered William Penn High School to Temple University, a neighborhood group has made good on its threat to take legal action.

The William Penn Development Coalition asked the state Supreme Court on Friday for an injunction to block the sale and to rule that the SRC's expedited process violated state law.

A small contingent rallied Monday outside City Hall to announce the suit against the SRC and to publicize the community-based organization's campaign to buy the site in the Yorktown section of North Philadelphia for a school focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

"We do not want anyone to think that Yorktown is for sale," coalition member Tyrone Reed shouted through a bullhorn as a few other protesters held up signs and handed out fliers.

"We are out to let everyone know that we are not going to stand idly by and let Temple University, or anyone else, come into our community and dictate what they want to do," he said.

District spokesman Fernando Gallard said the district does not comment on lawsuits.

When the district temporarily closed the William Penn campus in 2009, then-Superintendent Arlene C. Ackerman told neighbors the district would reopen the building within five years as a career and technical school for district students.

But last month, the SRC voted to close William Penn permanently and sell the 14-acre property to Temple for $15 million. Temple's plans call for athletic fields and recreation space for its students. The university said the building fronting North Broad Street would house a union-run job-training academy.

To speed up the sale, the SRC voted to suspend part of the state code that requires hearings before school buildings can be sold.

The coalition asked the state's top court to rule that the SRC lacked authority to suspend the code.

The case is the second state Supreme Court challenge to the SRC's powers to ignore state law. In March, West Philadelphia Achievement Charter Elementary School asked the court to rule that the SRC illegally suspended parts of state law covering charter schools.

West Philadelphia Achievement also alleges that the 1998 law that led to the state takeover of the district violates the state constitution because it allows an unelected SRC to bypass "at will" parts of state law without providing any standards to guide the suspensions.

martha.woodall@phillynews.com

215-854-2789

 

July 15, 2014

 

 
 

 

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