Philadelphia Catholic schools can appeal closings
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput at a Jan. 6 press conference on the Blue Ribbon Commission on Catholic education. Credit: Archdiocese of Philadelphia
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput at a Jan. 6 press conference on the Blue Ribbon Commission on Catholic education. Credit: Archdiocese of Philadelphia
By Benjamin Mann
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.- Philadelphia Catholic schools will have a chance to appeal recently-announced closing and merging decisions, the archdiocese said on Jan. 10.

“Sometimes commissions, when they study issues, make mistakes, and it may be that our analysis of the situation can be corrected,” Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said during the Jan. 6 press conference on the changes planned for nearly 50 schools.

“So if there are issues of fact that people can bring forward, and they want to make sure that I know that, I'll be happy to hear their concerns,” the archbishop said in response to a question about the appeal process.

On Tuesday, the archdiocese announced details of the review process for school administrators who want officials to reconsider a recommendation by the Blue Ribbon Commission.

In last week's “Faith in the Future” report, the commission said up to 45 of the 156 elementary or regional Catholic schools – as well as four of the 17 Catholic high schools – may have to close or merge due to financial and enrollment problems.

But school officials who disagree with its conclusions can appeal to one of two review committees, established separately for parish elementary schools and high schools.

These groups will hold meetings with school administrators, beginning Jan. 12, and concluding in early February, to discuss the reasons for the planned changes. Members of the education commission and other archdiocesan staff will also consider facts and documentation offered by the schools.

Both review committees will convey this information to the archbishop, whose final decisions will be made public in mid-February.

At Friday's press conference, Archbishop Chaput stressed that a new plan was needed for Catholic schools to survive and grow in the future. But he also observed that greater public support for school choice could have prevented the closings.

“If we'd had vouchers in place 15 years ago, we probably wouldn't be closing any of these schools, or at least most of them,” the archbishop noted, as he explained that the Church regards broad access to education as “a social justice issue.”

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