TLC Leadership Charter School

TLC Leadership Charter School would resemble TLC Leadership Academy, a private school serving at-risk youth in Montgomery County. 

After his proposed charter school was denied by the Conestoga Valley school board in September, GT Freeman said it was “just the beginning.”

He wasn’t bluffing.

Freeman, the CEO of the Lincoln Center for Family and Youth, a Montgomery County-based social services nonprofit, resubmitted an application this week to create the TLC Leadership Charter School.

The privately run, taxpayer-funded school would educate and provide daily counseling sessions for up to 200 students in kindergarten through 12th grade struggling with school phobia, anxiety and other mental health issues.

While it would be located in the Conestoga Valley School District, Freeman said he expects to serve students from 18 school districts throughout the region. School District of Lancaster would be the largest source of students.

Funding for the school would come from the students’ home school districts.

“History says they’ll deny it,” Freeman said of the Conestoga Valley school board, which has the ultimate say over the school’s approval. “But I’m hopeful that they’ll see that this is a very unique and a very innovative approach.”

The school board denied TLC’s first application this fall in part because of a lack of community support for the school and because the vast majority of its students wouldn’t come from Conestoga Valley.

In its updated application, TLC says it pre-enrolled 50 more students for a total of 157 — four of whom would come from CV — added a founding coalition member from Conestoga Valley, added letters of support from four organizations and three parents, and tweaked its charter management agreement based on concerns CV had with the school’s ties to its founding organization.

TLC also opened an office and held four parent information sessions in the district, Freeman said.

CV spokeswoman Kendal Gapinski said the district has received the application and “will do its due diligence in reviewing the resubmitted application.” The board, she added, will make a decision within the timelines set by the state’s charter school law.

The law says a school board shall consider a revised charter school application at the first board meeting at least 45 days after receiving it.

If denied again, TLC may apply a third time, but Freeman said his team would appeal to the state charter school appeal board at that point.

Freeman said he expects that’s how it’ll go, because denying charter school applications “seems to be the thing to do in Pennsylvania.”

“We know we have a very strong application,” Freeman said. “We’re not concerned at all that we’ll get a fair hearing at the appeals board.”

Related coverage