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Web Publisher Sues Pa. Cyber School

March 30, 2002

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ An online publishing company Friday sued a charter school that offers classes only over the Internet, claiming the school illegally copied course materials without paying for them.

The federal lawsuit was filed by New Forum Publishers, which offers online textbooks and curriculum guidelines to schools that pay a fee based on how many students they allow to access the material.

The publisher claims it offered Einstein Academy administrators a temporary password to its Web site in 2001 so the school could evaluate the material and decide whether to subscribe.

Einstein used the password to copy textbooks and other material, then distributed them to students, according to the lawsuit. New Forum said Einstein never subscribed to the service or paid a membership fee.

Attempts to reach Einstein executives or the school’s lawyer by telephone Friday evening were unsuccessful.

Einstein has been hit by a flurry of lawsuits since it opened in September, including several from public school districts trying to stop their students from enrolling.

Under the state’s charter school regulations, Einstein can enroll students anywhere in Pennsylvania. The school’s tuition is covered by each student’s local school district. Many have refused to pay, claiming the school hasn’t done enough to ensure that its 2,000 students are getting a good education.

Einstein’s founders and administration have said the districts are afraid of innovation, and of losing students to a competitor.

The state signed a deal with Einstein on Thursday allowing it to stay open and receive $3.4 million in withheld tuition. In exchange, Einstein agreed to develop individual instruction plans for special education students and pay back wages to teachers who have not seen a check in several weeks.

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