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Franklin Towne fighting back

Franklin Towne Charter High School CEO Brianna O’Donnell is fighting back after the school board voted to begin hearings to consider the revocation of the high school’s operating charter.

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The board last week voted 8-1, with Cecelia Thompson casting the dissenting vote, after reviewing allegations that the former FTC administration rigged its admission lottery against certain ZIP codes.

The former CEO, Joseph Venditti, resigned in February, before the allegations surfaced.

On Friday, in a “Dear FTCHS Staff and Families” letter, O’Donnell wrote, “Franklin Towne will continue to educate our students so that they can succeed at the high school level. Our students’ seats are secure as are our staff members’ jobs.”

O’Donnell went on to say, “Some of our new teachers that we hired over the summer left local underperforming schools so that they could make real connections with our students in their specific content.”

O’Donnell noted that Franklin Towne, 5301 Tacony St. in the Frankford Arsenal, is a National Blue Ribbon public high school and has an “A Report Card” from Niche.com.

Niche.com rated Franklin Towne as the third best charter school among 77 in Pennsylvania, behind only ones in Bethlehem and Harrisburg.

FTC received an A-plus in food and an A in Teachers, Diversity, Administration and Resources & Facilities.

The school has a 97 percent graduation rate.

“The School District of Philadelphia’s revocation campaign is politically motivated,” O’Donnell said. “Over the past decade, the district has been trying to force as many charter schools back into its budget as it can, and at the same time, it has denied nearly every application for a new charter high school.”

The school board took the vote after the School District of Philadelphia’s charter schools office recommended revocation hearings.

Next, FTC will go through a series of hearings in the months to come in front of a school board-appointed officer, who will make a recommendation to the school board, which will vote on whether charter revocation is warranted.

“Even if politics wins and Franklin Towne loses before the Board of Education, Pennsylvania law gives us the right to appeal any revocation to the state Charter Appeal Board (CAB),” O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell said the entire process could last several years.

The CEO is planning a community meeting to share more details about the process and what families can do.

FTC has the support of Philadelphia Charters for Excellence and the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools and, sources say, is expected to survive any final vote for revocation. ••

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