Philadelphia School Reform Commission Approves Five-Year Camelot Renewal

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Christina Grant, Assistant Superintendent for the School District of Philadelphia’s Opportunity Network, looks on as Camelot Academy 10th grade student David Panagiotakis testifies to the SRC about the impact Camelot Education has made on his life.

Camelot Education’s longstanding partnership with the School District of Philadelphia has been extended another five years.

The School Reform Commission (SRC) voted 3-0 to contract with Camelot to continue operating two programs for students with behavioral issues and two accelerated high schools for students who had dropped out or are at risk of dropping out. Camelot also serves the District with a therapeutic school for students with behavioral challenges.

“No district in the nation knows our work better than Philadelphia. This is where we started.  That’s why it is especially gratifying to win a unanimous contract renewal, which I consider the strongest kind of endorsement of the results we achieve for our students,” said Camelot President & CEO Todd Bock.

Camelot opened the city’s first accelerated program in 2004, later opening a second accelerated program and converting the formerly district-run Daniel Boone transitional program into Camelot Academy.

When other providers failed to perform up the District’s standards in operating transitional programs, the District assigned additional students to Camelot which led to creation of a second program, Camelot Academy East. A smaller therapeutic program – TDS of Philadelphia – was added to serve 9th to 12th grade students with behavioral and emotional issues.

Previous independent studies by Mathematica Policy Research, Research for Action and Jobs for the Future all showed Camelot achieved the best academic results of any Philadelphia alternative education program.

Although Camelot has been an exemplary educational provider in Philadelphia, Christina Grant, Assistant Superintendent for the Opportunity Network, assured the SRC that the District constantly monitors the programs.

“We have transition liaisons in both of our AEDY (Alternative Education for Disruptive Youth) programs on a daily basis to report on anything that might occur,” Grant said. “In addition, we have a very well defined process for staff members, students or families to make any complaints or raise issues.” Grant testified to the SRC prior to the vote.

Grant also noted that the demand among families to attend accelerated programs continues to grow and she hopes to add more accelerated seats next school year.

Camelot Academy 10th grade student David Panagiotakis, expelled from his regular high school for behavioral issues last year, testified at the SRC hearing on the impact attending Camelot has had on his life and education.

“Camelot has changed me in so many ways. I’ve become more professional. I’ve become ready to tackle anything that comes my way. I’m ready to explore new things. Camelot has given me a different view of education and life,” Panagiotakis said. “The support that I get is amazing, and I really couldn’t have done a lot of the things I’m doing today without them. For one, it’s a very safe environment. I feel really comfortable. And I like that we’re all accepted. Most people who see a person coming from a program like mine, they think that we’re all bad and that we shouldn’t be looked at as somebody to be given a chance. But the way Camelot has changed not only me but many students, we’re ready; we show the traits that they taught us, our way of handling things and that we could really do this.”

Darryl Duer, a former teacher and principal, now working as director of student services at Camelot Academy, said this position has opened his eyes to what’s possible for students who need a second chance.

“I am part of a model that begins with a vision that each and every student’s worth is to be discovered…and taken to a place and given opportunity where there might not have been opportunity before. Camelot’s work is indeed the work of redemption.”

Read more about Camelot Education at www.cameloteducation.org.

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