Ears on the SRC–September 15, 2016

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by Diane Payne
September 25, 2016

Inside Track

Titles of resolutions for charter renewals of Aspira, Mastery, and Universal schools were posted–but not the resolutions themselves. This is a deliberate move on the part of the SRC to make sure the public does not know what they intend to vote on.

We expected a packed house of charter school families to support their respective schools but found a sparsely filled auditorium instead. It would seem that the charter schools had the inside track on that one – again.  (More on this later.)

Dr. Hite was absent due to a death in the family. His Chief of Staff, Naomi Wyatt, sat in for him.

APPS Speakers

Nine APPS members used their three minutes at the mic to continue to advocate for public schools against the ongoing assault by the SRC and the Hite administration: Karel Kilimnik, Diane Payne, Lisa Haver, Rich Liuzzi, Tonya Bah, Kristin Leubbert, Eileen Duffy, Barbara Dowdall, and Lynda Rubin.  APPS members spoke on charter renewals; support for early childhood teachers in light of the SRC’s decision on suspensions; lack of transparency from the SRC; the shuttering of a neighborhood and its reopening as a “contract school”; and the lack of respect for teachers and school professionals shown by certain members of the SRC. (Click here to  view or to read the APPS September 15th SRC testimony,)

If not for Lisa Haver’s testimony, there would have been no mention of the disturbing reports on Fox 29 News about the sexual harassment lawsuit against Aspira CEO Alfredo Calderon, which was settled by Aspira Inc. for over $300,000 plus attorney’s fees. The complaint, filed by a former Aspira administrator, alleged that Calderon bragged about “sexual conquests of parents, teachers and students.”

Who’s Out, Who’s In?


Click here to read the entire article.

APPS members testimony before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission – September 15, 2016

 

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On September 15, 2016 the Philadelphia School Reform Commission’s met for its monthly Action Meeting.

This is testimony of members of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools at this meeting.

All nine videos can be viewed here.

Click on the pictures below to view individual videos. Speakers are in order of appearance at the SRC meeting


Video of APPS member Karel Kilimnik testifying before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission hearing – September 15, 2016.

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Click here to read the transcript of Karel’s testimony.


Video of APPS member Diane Payne testifying before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission hearing – September 15, 2016.

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Click here to read the transcript of Diane’s testimony.


Video of APPS member Lisa Haver testifying before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission hearing – September 15, 2016.

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Click here to read the transcript of Lisa’s testimony.


Video of APPS member Rich Liuzzi testifying before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission hearing – September 15, 2016.

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Click here to read the transcript of Rich’s testimony.


Video of APPS member Tonya Bah testifying before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission hearing – September 15, 2016.

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Video of APPS member Kristin Luebbert testifying before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission hearing – September 15, 2016.

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Click here to read the transcript of Kristin’s testimony.


Video of APPS member Eileen Duffey testifying before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission hearing – September 15, 2016.

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Video of APPS member Barbara Dowdall testifying before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission hearing – September 15, 2016.

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Click here to read the transcript of Barbara’s testimony.


Video of APPS member Lynda Rubin testifying before the Philadelphia School Reform Commission hearing – September 15, 2016.

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Click here to read the transcript of Lynda’s testimony.


 

Eyes on the SRC – September 15, 2016

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by Karel Kilimnik

September 13, 2016

As the school year begins, we witness another disappearing act by the SRC and the Hite administration. Now you see the resolutions, now you don’t. And when we asked for copies of resolutions already posted and distributed, but for some reason deleted from the district website, we were told by SRC staff that we had to file a Right to Know request. The SRC has made resolutions concerning ASPIRA, Olney High and Stetson Middle schools, along with Universal Audenreid High and Vare Middle schools, vanish into thin air—until they decided to make them reappear. The last time they were seen was at the April 28, 2016 SRC Action Meeting, when the Charter School Office strongly recommended non-renewal. Attorney and former mayoral candidate Kenneth Trujillo presented himself at the May 19 meeting as “Oversight Counsel” for ASPIRA, Inc; he admitted that ASPIRA had funneled money designated for Olney and Stetson into their other enterprises, but promised to correct that “cross-collateralization”. Trujillo told the SRC commissioners that ASPIRA Inc. had engaged William Blair and Company, one of the largest investment banks in the country. If ASPIRA wants to clean up its financial problems why are they spending money hiring William Blair & Company, “ a privately held financial services firm that provides investment bankingequity researchbrokerageasset management and private capital services.” What does this have to do with getting Aspira’s finances in order? Commissioner Bill Green made it clear that the SRC would be meeting with Aspira representatives to ensure that the company maintained control of these two schools.

APPS has been active in the five months since April to ensure that the public knows how the SRC is spending public money. We have written to the Mayor and the city’s Chief Integrity Officer, along with the Inspector General appointed to oversee the district. Negotiations with charter companies should not take place in private.

Also pulled from the bag of tricks is the reappearance of renewal resolutions for three Mastery charters—Clymer, Gratz Middle and High, and Shoemaker middle—also originally posted April 28. Despite low test scores, the Charter office recommended renewal. Why did the SRC postpone these for five months? Have SRC commissioners also been negotiating with Mastery? Originally they were posted but then they disappeared from the website. There is also a proposed charter amendment for KIPP Philadelphia Charter. This proposal was denied twice before. Why is the SRC allowing KIPP to submit the same amendment? Why so many do-overs for charters but none for public schools like Wister?

In April 2013, the SRC voted to close Vaux High School as part of the Hite administration’s massive closure campaign. The reason: under-enrollment. Fast forward to the present: the SRC, with no presentation or discussion, will vote to re-open Vaux—not as the public school it was, but as something called a “contract school”. The district, apparently, has been in negotiations with a company called Big Picture. Instead of supporting the school community to provide resources for all of their students, the district chose to scatter those students, disperse the staff, and leave a hole in the neighborhood. Is this the beginning of a new pattern, as more and more people see what a disaster charters have become? Close a school for a couple of years and then allow a non-profit to open it as a “contract” school? Public education dollars are the modern day gold rush for carpetbagger corporations.

Past practice shows us that these charter school operators will be out in full force at the September 15th SRC Meeting. We need for everyone to show up, ask questions either through testimony or by holding signs. We need to show that the community has questions and concerns about the direction the unelected SRC commissioners are taking.

The School Reform Commission is a governmental body. They control the over $2 billion dollar budget for the District and as public officials they must include public input. It’s difficult to comment on issues when Resolutions pop up and then disappear until a Resolution announcing the decision appears.

WE REALLY NEED YOU TO JOIN US AT THE SRC MEETING ON THURSDAY SEPTEMEBER 15th. Judging from the nature of the Resolutions and past practice, the charter operators will be out in full force. In order to get upstairs and into the auditorium call to register to speak by Wednesday September 14 at 4:00 p.m. The phone is 215 400 4180. The meeting starts at 4:30.

Click here to read APPS Analysis of selected resolutions on which the SRC will vote on September 15th.

 

Ears on the SRC – August 18, 2016

Full SRC 5-19-16

By Lynda Rubin and Deborah Grill

August 28, 2016

Overview

Public attendance was light. Chair Marjorie Neff and Commissioners Bill Green and Sylvia Simms were present; Commissioner Houston participated by phone for the first hour and voted on the first set of resolutions, SRC 1-15; Commissioner Jimenez participated by phone for the last twenty minutes.

Chair Neff began by explaining a change in the agenda which would allow those testifying on resolutions SRC 1-15 (except resolutions SRC 8, 11, 12 and 13–Mastery School renewals, which were withdrawn by staff just prior to the meeting) to be heard first, followed by those votes being taken in order to accommodate Commissioners Houston and Jimenez “who would be participating by phone”. However, when Interim Chief of General Counsel Miles Shore took roll, Commissioner Jimenez failed to answer. This regular practice of having SRC members participate by phone, without access to documents, previous testimony, or ability to fully take part in discussions, is one that should only be used only in the case of a true emergency.

Jimenez did not join the meeting until all of the speakers had finished giving their testimony. She did vote on the Education Support Services and Education Services resolutions. Jimenez said little until just before adjournment at which time she gave a three-minute diatribe against Lisa Haver, objecting to Haver’s “spewing vitriol” and aiming “slings and arrows” at her.  Jimenez accused Haver of defending only the First Amendment rights “of those who agree with her”.  Jimenez did not explain the reason for her remarks: that Haver and another APPS member had sent a letter to Jimenez questioning her appearance on MSNBC as part of a panel of “undecided voters”, during which Jimenez failed to identify herself as an SRC member or Republican party operative but did repeat several of Donald Trump’s talking points. Nor did she or the Chair give Haver a chance to respond. (See the video at the end of this post.)

Click here to read the rest of the Eyes on the SRC – August 18, 2016