APPS News: August 2017

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by Karel Kilimnik
August 31, 2017

It’s been a busy summer for education activists. APPS members have:

  • Responded to the challenges posed by the new District website
  • Appealed the District’s response to our Right To Know request for information about the secret meetings held between District staff and charter school operators over a 6-month period this year
  • Produced our regular editions of Eyes and Ears on SRC meetings
  • Worked with members of the Strawberry Mansion High community to get information about a possible co-location of an outsourced program at the school

Disappearing Documents

On August 1, without any prior public notification, the District posted a new website. The previous site was taken down, and information about charter evaluations, individual schools and SRC history were nowhere to be found. Minutes and Resolutions from SRC meetings from 2001 to 2016 were gone. The entire page on Dr Hite’s prized System of Great Schools disappeared. We were unable to contact the Director and Assistant Director of the Communications Office as they were both on vacation the week the new website made its debut. We were able to speak off the record with some SRC staff members, but no one could give us a definite answer on when—or if—that information would be restored. First we were told October, then January 2018. Dr. Hite, in his first remarks on the subject at the August 17 SRC meeting, said that all information would be restored by “Spring 2018”. Is this the SRC’s idea of transparency and community engagement?

Several APPS members raised concerns about the disappearance of public information by a government agency at the August 17 SRC meeting. Dr Hite actually responded to Lisa Haver’s question by stating that the “district was interested in restoring information and would appreciate feedback about what is missing, how users’ experiences can be improved and what is not working well.” Email him at hite@philasd.org.

Because of the pressure from APPS members, we have seen much of the information about SRC history restored. We will continue to monitor the website.

 APPS Files Right to Know on Secret Meetings with Charter Supporters

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