PHILADELPHIA - The sudden closure of a Philadelphia charter school during revocation
hearings in December has left members of the staff and faculty unpaid for the last month of work, according to a class action lawsuit filed at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas by one of the former teachers.
David Hardrick, of Philadelphia, is the lead plaintiff of the class action, which seeks to include all of the former employees of Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School, numbering between 75 and 150 staff members.
The complaint demands a declaratory judgment ruling the defendants breached their contract and violated the rights of the plaintiffs under the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act. Hardrick also seeks full compensation for his lost wages and benefits, plus attorneys fees and court costs.
According to the complaint, Hardrick began working for the charter school in September 2007 and earned an annual salary of $75,000. A series of legal battles with the Philadelphia School District placed the school's enrollment in jeopardy.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in favor of the school district and compelled the charter school in October to reduce the student body from 1,200 kids to 675 in the K-8 level, keeping with the cap from a 2005 contract. The start of the school year also saw the abrupt closing of the high school, forcing upset parents to find placement in nearby schools, the complaint says.
Allegations of money mismanagement during the revocation hearings in November added to the Walter D. Palmer charter school's woes, as officials responded to questions about potentially overcharging the school district for student placements by pleading the Fifth Amendment. Finally, on Dec. 26 administrators informed the staff that the school would be closing effective Dec. 31. The School Reform Commission revoked the charter on Jan. 15.
According to the complaint, the teachers were notified by the charter school officials on Jan. 5 that they would not be able to meet payment obligations, including payroll for the Dec. 1 to Dec. 31 time period. Hardrick claims that he and the rest of them members of the proposed class had not been paid for work performed between Nov. 1 and Jan. 15.
Hardrick is represented by attorneys from Brodie & Rubinsky, P.C.
The case ID is 15013209.