Delaware Valley High School has sent furlough letters to its entire staff.
The DVHS operates four schools, and runs two for the School District of Philadelphia: the accelerated program and the alternative (known as disciplinary) schools located at 4300 Westminster Avenue and at 4224 N. Front Street.
The DVHS has retained Zarwin Baum law firm Attorney Paul W. Baskowsky, who, when reached by phone, contradicted media reports that suggested DVHS has closed its doors and isn’t accepting other students.
“The schools are not closed, and [the media] reports are wrong,” Baskowsky said, mentioning that at this point, he is limited on what information he can release to the press. “The staff is simply on furlough until we get a contract, and they are currently in contract negotiations with the school district.
“Of course, if the school district doesn’t supply the students, the school cannot operate.”
This isn’t Delaware Valley High School’s first hint of trouble. There are reports that link the school to Chaka Fattah Jr. — the son of powerful U.S. Congressman Chaka Fattah — a matter which came to light recently as the FBI raided the Logan Square offices of attorney David Shulick. It has been reported that Shulick’s offices run DVHS, and the federal officials were looking for paperwork highlighting the involvement of Fattah Jr.
Fattah Jr. couldn’t be reached for comment, and Congressman Fattah hadn’t returned Tribune calls for comment before deadline.
The school district, at one point, was paying $4.1 million to DVHS to operate both the disciplinary school on Kelly Drive and the accelerated program in Southwest Philadelphia.
School District of Philadelphia spokesman Fernando Gallard said the district was advised of the ongoing investigation and of the mass furlough, but said, as of now, the district hasn’t been notified of any plans by DVHS to shut down.
“We have not been notified that the school is closing, but what we do know is that the school has sent letters to teachers announcing they have been furloughed — but no notification was sent to us,” Gallard said. “These are not charter schools, but are contracted schools that provide special services to the district; we did hire them to run an alternative school and an accelerated school, and those are the two schools we have contracted them to run.
“Usually, the School Reform Commission approves a contract extension for one year,” Gallard continued, “and we are still in the midst of negotiating those extensions for all of our providers. We will take into consideration the changes the DVHS is considering when we approve those extensions.”
Consideration, too, must be paid to the 500 or so students that attend DHS. Gallard said it wouldn’t be too difficult to shift the seats and resources, should DVHS collapse.
“We are working very quickly and trying to get [negotiations] done as soon as possible; contracts expired on June 30, and the district is now working on extending the contracts,” Gallard said, noting that the severely at-risk students in both schools will receive the same level of instruction and guidance as they have become accustomed to receiving at DVHS. “But we could easily shift seats if we needed to. DVHS doesn’t represent a large portion of the seats we contract, so it’s not a tremendous shift for us.
“Basically, what you are looking at, if we are looking to maintain the same number of seats, it just means we have to look for other providers.”