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City Neighborhoods
Board ordered to issue charter

Saturday, April 13, 2002

By Carmen J. Lee, Post-Gazette Education Writer

A Common Pleas judge ordered members of the Pittsburgh Board of Public Education yesterday to grant a five-year charter to the City Charter High School.

Judge Timothy P. O'Reilly's decision enables the school to move forward with signing a lease, hiring teachers and recruiting students, said Marc Sternberger, attorney for the school's organizers.

"This means we can go ahead and open in September," Sternberger said. "It really is a win for the students of Pittsburgh and their parents because it gives them a wonderful choice for a high school."

After reviewing the case and listening to arguments earlier this month and yesterday, O'Reilly agreed with Sternberger that the school board approved the charter in February. At that board meeting, members voted 6-2, with one abstention, to grant the charter to the school as long as it met six conditions.

District administrators told the board last month that the organizers had met the conditions, but a measure to issue the charter failed to pass when it came before the board. The vote was 4-3, with two abstentions. On certain issues, such as opening a new school, five or more of the board's nine members have to vote affirmatively.

Sternberger had contended that the 4-3 vote was adequate to pass the measure. He also had argued that the board did not have authority to add conditions to issuing the charter in the first place.

City Charter High School will offer students internships and other workplace experiences and all students will be given a laptop computer. The school will have a year-round calendar and teachers will instruct the same students all four years.

The school is expected to be housed in the Clark Building, 717 Liberty Ave., Downtown. It will open with ninth-graders in the fall and add a class a year until it becomes a four-year school.

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