" ... Care be taken about the Learning and Instruction of Youth ..."
William Penn established a group he called "Overseers" to govern his school. Three centuries later, the board — known now as Trustees — is still responsible for the operation of Penn Charter.
Penn expressed his interest in education in his new colony early on, in his Frame of Government in 1682 and at meetings of the Provincial Council over which he presided. On Nov. 11, 1683, he proposed that “Care be taken about the Learning and Instruction of Youth, to wit: a school of arts and sciences.”
The founding of Penn Charter was the direct result of instructions from Penn to the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania, and the Council’s request for assistance from Philadelphia Monthly Meeting.
In 1708, Penn signed a charter taking responsibility for the school from Philadelphia Monthly Meeting and placing it in the hands of 15 trusted Quakers, a group he called "Overseers." (In 2021, the board officially abandoned the word "overseer" in favor of the word "trustee.")
In 1711, Penn signed another charter removing the requirement that the 15 board members be members of the Religious Society of Friends. The 1711 charter remains the legal basis under which the school operates to this day. In directing the course of the school, board members make decisions by consensus, in the manner of Friends. In 1973, the board added six more members, each to serve three-year renewable terms, bringing the total number of board members to 21.