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Troubled Delaware Valley High School in Reading faces state crackdown

Education officials report issues found during 2-day visit last month

Reading school board: Troubled alternative school

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania education officials said they might revoke approval of a school for troubled students because it has not provided required academic and counseling programs and failed to tamp down violence.

"The action and the violations are so egregious that in order to protect the students, the department is seeking these revocations," said Tim Eller, PA. Dept. of Education.

The for-profit Delaware Valley High School on Margaret Street in Reading has a $1.1 million contract with the Reading School District to run a disciplinary school for 125 students in grades six to 12.

State education officials said they received several phone calls from DVHS employees on or about Nov. 17, regarding the school's compliance with state law.

The department followed up on the calls by visiting the school, along with district officials, including Superintendent Carlinda Purcell, on Dec. 11 and 12.

Officials said they found students were receiving fewer than three hours of academic instruction per day. Non-academic activities, as described by the school staff, included "strategic gaming," "clubs" and "free for all" and occurred throughout the afternoon of each school day, according to the department, adding that afternoon classes started being scheduled during the last week of November.

Officials said they also found evidence that Delaware Valley administrators directed staff to falsify incident reports and to exclude incidents of violence from daily logs. The school would also dismiss students early on afternoons when their behavior could not be controlled, officials said.

"There are enough concerns that we are looking into it, and there's going to have to be something done," said Robert Heebner, Jr., Reading school board president.

In a subsequent "order to show cause," the education department told the school's owner, David T. Shulick, to respond to the department's findings by Thursday and make major changes by Jan. 14.

Shulick said the claims have "no factual or legal basis."

DVHS has garnered publicity for numerous incidents involving student fights and weapons in school.

Two police officers were injured while trying to break up what was described as a riot among students at the school on Sept. 21. Seven students were arrested.

Shulick accused several former school employees, including its one-time director, of inciting the violence among students.

Last March, cell phone video surfaced of a brawl involving DVHS students on a bus that was transporting them to the school's former location near Pottstown.

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