Considering Whether a Facility Is Appropriate Under the Charter School Law

In Souderton Area School District v. Souderton Charter School Collaborative, 764 A.2d 688 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2000), even though there was no evidence that the site proposed in the application (in a strip mall) was not available, State Charter School Appeal Board (CAB) sua sponte questioned whether the site was still available because two years had elapsed since the application had been filed. Reviewing the suitability of the proposed site, CAB disagreed with the school district's denial and found the proposed site acceptable and available at the time of the application. CAB, therefore, issued an order directing the school district to sign the charter; however, it also stated that, "in addition, prior to opening the charter school, the applicant shall provide the School District and the CAB with information regarding the facility to be used for the charter school." 764 A.2d at 696. The district appealed arguing that, because CAB required it to grant the charter without ever viewing the proposed school site, the order violated the Charter School Law (CSL). In affirming CAB's order we agreed that, if the school district's interpretation of CAB's order was correct, "the CAB contravened section 1719-A(11) of the CSL." Id. at 697. However, the Court found that CAB's order "directing the school district to sign the charter school Application, refers only to the Application including the Strip Mall Facility." Id. The Court interpreted the other language to: . . . Direct applicant to inform the School District and the CAB in the event that applicant would need to use a different facility. In this way, the School District and the CAB would be aware that applicant would have to submit a new application to the District Board and afford the District Board an opportunity to consider whether the facility is appropriate under the CSL. Souderton, 764 A.2d at 698.