During the Northampton School Board meeting that took place on March 14 in the Northampton Area High School auditorium, board member Kim Bretzik motioned to postpone the approval of the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts application for a five-year renewal until the next board meeting in April.
Bretzik stated, “Our responsibility is to ensure that the charter school is in compliance with their charter and the law, and that requirements for testing, civil rights, and student safety are being met. Since our last board meeting, some alleged student safety incidents have come to light.”
Bretzik also noted that the charter doesn’t expire until June 30, and motioned to table the item “so that we can know the results of that investigation and vote to approve the charter with good conscience.”
The alleged safety incidents are a result of multiple students coming forward regarding the sexual assault and discrimination they experienced at the charter school, which they claim have gone unheard.
On February 15, the students staged a sit-in protest at the school. The situation escalated and police were called, which resulted in three students receiving disorderly conduct citations.
Several parents spoke out about the charter school and its approval at the meeting.
One concerned mother stated, “If these students continue feeling like they are not being heard, it could get worse. The school says they are handling it, but it seems like fluff.” She followed her statement by requesting the school board to investigate these allegations further.
Other concerned parents also spoke out about tabling the charter renewal to “wait and see if anything comes from the current investigation.” The public comments seemed to be in consensus with Bretzik’s motion.
Some of the directors, however, indicated that pushing back the approval for the charter school would not prove helpful, stating that the investigation will, most likely, not be finished before the school’s renewal deadline. One board member added, “We’re not privy to the investigation process, so there is not much we can do at this time—nothing that would indicate we should not renew the charter at this time.”
Following, a public comment was made that not approving the charter on Monday night could send a clear message to the school that their actions are being scrutinized. The individual stated the message sent to the charter school would be that “we are paying attention and we are concerned.”
Members of the school board reiterated that the renewal can be revoked in the future if something comes from the investigation.
Board members Kim Bretzik, Chuck Frantz and Doug Vaughn voted against the motion, but with the majority being in favor of approving the renewal, the motion carried for the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts to be renewed for five years beginning July 1, 2022, and ending on June 30, 2027.
The NASD Board of School Directors will meet next on Monday, April 11 at 6:30 p.m. in the Northampton Area High School auditorium, located at 1619 Laubach Ave.