Charter moratorium bill coming to Delaware house

Representative Charles Potter, D-Wilmington, plans to introduce a bill that would stop the state from opening new charter schools in Wilmington.

Potter said Wednesday that lawyers are working on the exact language of the legislation, and that it will likely be introduced next week.

Potter’s bill comes less than a week after the Wilmington City Council passed a resolution asking the state for a similar moratorium on charters. While that was merely a request, the state legislature would, in theory, have the authority to amend existing charter law and halt the opening of new schools.

Potter, who represents a district in North Wilmington, said the over-proliferation of charters in Wilmington has disrupted school feeding patterns, among other problems.

It’s been a busy few months for Wilmington schools. Late last year, Governor Jack Markell ordered the formation of a committe to examine education in Delaware’s largest city. The Wilmington Education Advisory Committee is expected to issue its first batch of recommendations on January 26.

Last Septmber, Markell announced his priority schools initiative, which aims to turn around six of the city’s lowest-performing schools. The state has spent months haggling with local school districts over the details of those turnaround plans.

Some of the cities charter schools have also made headlines. Last October, state officials revoked the charter of the Maurice J. Moyer Academic Institute, citing poor academics. Moyer challenged the decision in court, but lost. The state nearly closed another Wilmington charter, Family Foundations Academy, after allegations of financial malfeasence. The school survived after firing its co-leaders and shaking up its board of directors.

There are currently 13 charter schools operating in Wilmington, with at least two more expected to open in the fall.

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