Education Law

PA School Districts Not To Pay for Pre-K Charter/Cyber Charters

On Wednesday, November 23, 2011, the PA Supreme Court issued its decision on whether a school district has to pay for a student to attend a charter or cyber charter school’s kindergarten when the student would be too young to attend the district’s program.

The answer was a clear and unambiguous "no."


The facts of the case were that some parents in Slippery Rock enrolled their four year old daughter in a cyber charter school's kindergarten.  The school district's minimum age for kindergarteners was and is 5.  The cyber charter school sought payment from the district and the district refuse.  The district claimed that it had the sole power to determine the age at which a kindergartener may start attending school.  As above, the PA Supreme Court agreed with the district.

To start, I have a hard time accepting that a cyber charter school can offer a kindergarten class.  While young kids are using computers ealier and earlier -- I have seen it -- I cannot believe that a four-year old would be able to sit through computer based instruction requiring keyboarding and sitting still to interact for extended periods.

Regardless, this decision is just as applicable to 'brick and mortar' charter schools.  In those, it is conceivable that the charter could have used the Charter School Law as a vehicle to offer glorfied day care to younger kids.  This decision will put a stop to that if it was happening. 

What it will also likely stop is charter and cyber charter schools offering pre-K programs.  Why? Because if the school districts do not have to pay for it, and the law forbid the schools from collecting that tuition from the residents, then there will be no one paying the school.

For those who believe in starting early education, this is likely viewed as a defeat. But for those managing school district budgets, I am sure it is a win.

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