The problems surrounding the Medical Academy Charter School in Catasauqua are not over yet.
Several issues arose during the Catasauqua School District board meeting on Tuesday night separate from the pensions payment problems, for which the Medical Academy Charter School was on the agenda.
The charter school owed the district over $16,000 after said amount was deducted from district funds when the charter school failed to properly pay their pension fees with the state. That issue has since been cleared up, as confirmed in an update during the board’s meeting Tuesday night.
Later in the meeting, however, the Medical Academy Charter School found itself back in the hot seat when the husband of a former employee raised concerns about the work environment his wife had faced when teaching art at the charter school.
“Nobody should be able to walk into their school or employment and feel like they’re not sure what will happen in the next five minutes,” Carl Kamph said. “You hope from your employer that there would be answers, improvements and protocols.”
Kamph’s statements were prompted by an article published in the Morning Call September 28 quoting an anonymous letter submitted by former employees of the Medical Charter School.
Several others joined Kamph in his concerns about MACS, including his wife, Carol, who said that she didn’t feel safe at work after witnessing fights resulting in harm to teachers where no real safety procedures were in place. A coworker of Carol’s, Heather Walke, said she felt relieved to not be returning to work at MACS in a job she found she “could not ethically do.”
“I fear for the kids getting into college,” Walke said. “When I left we couldn’t even print a transcript out.”
Walke’s fears were shared by student Megan Konrath. Megan and her mother addressed the board about Megan’s decision to leave the charter school because she felt that she needed something “more challenging” to prepare her for her future. Last minute changes in Megan’s GPA, report cards and honors credits resulted in a GPA lower than initially awarded by the school, according to Lilly Konrath, Megan’s mom.
Other parents felt that the charter school exceeded their expectations.
“If there are any red flags, we are the type of parents to try to find out more,” one parent said. “With my daughter’s homework that she brings home, we have been very pleased. What I see at this school is that she is completing book reports and dissecting an eyeball and getting interested in careers.”
These sorts of comments were a warm welcome to Dr. Craig Haytmanek, the school’s co-founder, and Joanna Hughes, the principal. Hatymanek and Hughes consistently denied the validity of any of these claims.
“I think it’s unnatural for employees who were not rehired to speak about the organization of the school that they were released from,” Hughes said to the board. “I have to say that much of what you’re hearing is not true. And I don’t want this to be a battlefield.”
With faces to these claims, and not just an anonymous letter, the board promised to look in to the various issues presented to them, including confusion and controversy over the quality and consistency of the medicine-based curriculum.
“When we got the charter application, it said the curriculum would be infused with medicine,” said Robert Spengler, a board member. “You can’t be an alternative school, you have to be a medical charter school that has medical concepts infused into every class. We will need to stop down tomorrow and pick up those [curriculum] materials.”
“When we have information presented, we check it out,” said. David Knerr, a board member. “We will look at the emergency procedures as well.”