Camelot Schools drops pursuit of former Germantown High building

 A scene from the last day of school at the now-shuttered Germantown High School. (Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks, file)

A scene from the last day of school at the now-shuttered Germantown High School. (Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks, file)

Camelot Schools is no longer looking to move three of its alternative education programs to Germantown High School’s now-shuttered building.

 

Over the summer, officials with Camelot, a for-profit education company, worked towards putting Excel Academy North, Excel Academy South and Camelot Academy under one roof.

After garnering support from the neighborhood and local elected officials, the company appeared poised to ink a three-year lease with the School District of Philadelphia, a longtime partner.

A last-minute change

In late August, though, the district told Camelot that it could not assure the company that the GHS building was “completely safe” for students and that it would need to be inspected.

At the time, Camelot spokesperson Kirk Dorn said it would be at least a couple months before that could happen.

Following the news, Camelot divided students between two sites with which it had broken ties in advance of this school year.

More than 400 students returned to the former home of Camelot Academy in North Philadelphia, a district-owned building.

The Jefferson Street property previously housed Camelot’s “transitional” students, who were removed from traditional middle schools and high schools for disciplinary infractions.

The site now hosts 300 students from that program as well as 135 more from Camelot’s Excel programs, which serve “near dropouts” who need a substantial number of credits to complete high school.

Four hundred more Excel students returned to the Friends Hospital campus in Northeast Philadelphia.

The future of GHS

On Tuesday, Dorn told NewsWorks that all students would be staying at those locations.

“The decision to remain at our current sites was solely Camelot’s,” said Dorn. “Had we and the district felt our students would be better served at Germantown we would have again pursued a move there.”

The decision comes as a grassroots group, The Germantown High School Task Force, considers future uses for the building. A vocational-technical school has been proposed, but some residents are also interested in offering a traditional  K-12 curriculum.

An existing district school, Hill-Freedman Middle School, has also expressed interest in the property. The special-admissions school is in the process of expanding to include a high-school curriculum and needs more space to support the extra students.

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