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Philly charter school used as nightclub

PHILADELPHIA – Who knew a school cafeteria could be so much fun?

A space where hundreds of Philadelphia charter school students have been eating their lunches during mundane weekdays has been doubling in its off-hours as a nightclub, offering dancing and drinking despite an expired liquor license.

City and school officials are not happy about the arrangement between Club Damani and the Harambee Institute of Science and Technology Charter School, which serves about 450 children in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Superintendent Arlene Ackerman said in a letter to Harambee on Monday that “a school and a nightclub cannot coexist in the same space and (the arrangement) must cease immediately,” according to a school district statement.

As a charter school, Harambee receives about $3.5 million annually in public funds but operates independently of the district. Officials at Harambee could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

A statement on the school’s Web site said recent media reports contain “slanderous and inaccurate allegations.”

Officers with the state Bureau of Liquor Enforcement visited Club Damani on Saturday, a day after WPVI-TV first aired a report on the building’s double-life. The segment included footage of liquor bottles and a YouTube video promoting the club in which a man refers to marijuana use.

No alcohol was being served when authorities arrived, bureau Sgt. William La Torre said Tuesday.