by Diane Payne
June 24, 2017
Four of the five commissioners were present for the entire meeting. Once again, Commissioner Bill Green was absent without explanation for most of the meeting, appearing near the end of the public speakers. He arrived at 8 PM for a meeting that began at 4:30. The fact that he missed all of the staff presentations, including those on charter renewal and amendments, did not stop him from voting on all resolutions. This same kind of unexplained absence occurred at the meetings of April 27th and May 1st when he again missed most of the meeting arriving in time to vote on resolutions.
The SRC by-laws do not specify the consequences of a commissioner missing most of an Action Meeting, then voting on resolutions. SRC Policy 006.1 states:
To attend a SRC meeting through electronic communications, a Commissioner shall comply with the following:
a. Submit such request to the SRC Chairperson or designee at least three (3) days prior to the meeting.
b. Ensure that the remote location is quiet and free from background noise and interruptions.
c. Participate in the entire SRC meeting
The question that must be addressed by Chair Wilkerson: should a commissioner who misses most of the meeting, who has little knowledge of the issues on the table, be permitted to vote?
Defenders of Public Education
APPS members held a Requiem for Shuttered Schools at 440 before the SRC meeting. Malcolm Kenyatta spoke on behalf of State Rep. Curtis Thomas, who fought to save William Penn High School and Harrison Elementary. Members of Parents United for Public Education, Our City Our Schools, Save Smith School and a number of other community groups spoke against Hite’s plan to close three neighborhood schools each year for the next five years.
At the SRC meeting, in addition to ten APPS members, fourteen speakers including students, parents, district staff and community members from the Our City Our Schools Coalition (OCOS) called for the abolishment of the SRC in their testimonies. OCOS asked the SRC to commit to a timeline that would have them vote to abolish that body by Fall 2017. After a vote to abolish, it will take another 180 days before the PA Secretary of Education can approve this measure. There is a sense of urgency around this demand in light of the latest national election and the appointment of Betsy DeVos as head US Secretary of Education, in addition to fears of what the outcome of the next PA gubernatorial election might bring. Philadelphia is the only one of the state’s 499 districts that has imposed state control and which disenfranchises voters from choosing an elected school board. We have had 16 years of SRC governance with nothing to show for it except a loss of democratic voice and services to our children.
SRC’s Willful, Continuous Violations of the Letter and Spirit of the Sunshine Act