On December 22, 2016 The Philadelphia Public School Notebook published an article about APPS scrutiny of the actions of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission. This is the article:
Shining a light on the SRC
by Darryl Murphy – The Philadelphia Public School Notebook
Picture by Darryl Murphy
Thanks to the School Reform Commission, Lisa Haver and other members of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools now have a daily habit: reading the newspaper’s classified section.
Haver and five other members of the advocacy group were among the few people present on the morning of Monday, Oct. 6, 2014, at a quietly announced SRC meeting. The announcement of the meeting was made only in an ad placed in the classified section of the previous day’s Philadelphia Inquirer.
The purpose of the proceeding, as many suspected, was to cancel the School District’s contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.
Haver said she didn’t know about the meeting until another APPS member, Karel Kilimnik, called and asked her about it.
“Since then,” said Haver, “we have one member of APPS who, every single day, goes and looks at the classifieds to see if the SRC or the District is putting in these tiny notices that they don’t want people to know about.”
After a settlement with the SRC this fall, that kind of stealthy notice may be a thing of the past.
As a governing body for the city of Philadelphia, the SRC must adhere to the Sunshine Act of Pennsylvania, a law requiring “all meetings or hearings of every agency at which formal action is taken” to be open to the public with an opportunity for them to comment. This, according to lawmakers, is to create and maintain transparency in governing agencies for “increased public confidence.”
“If you don’t have an informed and active citizenry, government suffers for it,” said Melissa Melewsky, media law counsel for the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association.
“Ideally, government and the public they serve work together for the best interest of everyone. And the public can’t help government do that if they don’t know what’s going on.”