Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania Opinion Upholding State Secretary of Education Decision on Charter School Funding in an Enrollment Cap Dispute

This April 3, 2012, majority opinion of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania -- involving a Philadelphia charter school, the city school district and the state department of education -- focuses on a dispute about what constitutes a charter school enrollment cap and the obligation to provide additional funding when a cap is exceeded.

The opinion upholds a state secretary of education decision that validates the enrollment cap for one of the contested school years, and invalidates it for two other school years, and directs the disbursement of $1.2 million withheld for those two years. The opinion discusses how changes in the law over the time of the dispute apply and the role of the charter school’s governing board in setting the enrollment cap.

A dissenting opinion from the court also is included. The opinion was the subject of a Philadelphia Inquirer article. The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, an intermediate appellate court, generally focuses on cases involving state, local government and regulatory agencies.