Philly board hires firm to investigate racial bias in charter school authorizations

Chalkbeat Philly by Johann Callhoun, December 1, 2021

Months after the Philadelphia school board vowed to look into allegations that Black-led charter schools have been targeted for closure, the board announced Wednesday that it’s hiring a local firm to investigate racial bias in how charter schools are authorized. The board has tapped Ballard Spahr LLP, a Philadelphia-based law firm to lead the investigation. The firm, which is working for free, might hire a third-party consultant with experience in racial equity analyses to assist in the investigation. If it does, the school district will pay for the consultant. The results of the investigation are expected in the fall, according to the board. “The board takes allegations of racial bias seriously, and we want everyone to know that we are looking transparently at what we do in order to continuously improve our work on behalf of Philadelphia’s students,” Board of Education President Joyce Wilkerson said in a statement. “We also want our minority founded and led schools to know that we recognize the value their voices bring to the table as we continue to strengthen charter authorizing practices. “The announcement comes after the school board delayed a vote last month on whether to close Universal Audenried Promise Neighborhood Partnership Charter School, a popular Black-led charter school in South Philadelphia. That vote now is scheduled for Dec. 9.

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