by Diane Payne
February 3, 2018
Ringing in 2018
Only four commissioners were present at this meeting: Chair Joyce Wilkerson and Commissioners Estelle Richman, Christopher McGinley and Farah Jimenez. Absent again, without explanation or apology, was Commissioner Bill Green. It has become increasingly clear that Commissioner Green does not take his responsibility to the public seriously. This is now the sixth time he has been absent since April 2017. He has come in at the tail end of meetings only to vote; he has left meetings early to call in and vote.
Ten APPS members testified on behalf of public education. [To see their testimony and the testimony of other defenders of public education, please go to the APPS website.]
Remarks and Presentations
Superintendent William Hite, in his official remarks, stated that the district has greater stability in job placement. However, the testimony of teacher Robin Lowry painted a different picture for her school. [To see and view Robin’s testimony about the vacancies at Edison H.S., go to the SRC testimony video and click on the 22:45 minute time stamp.]
The one staff presentation concerned changes in the district’s food program. It is heartening to hear that the district is trying different means of increasing participation in the food program, but the issue of the quality of the food remains unaddressed. Children still receive unappetizing pre-packaged items, not the meals many of us remember that were prepared in school kitchens.
Commissioner McGinley, chair of the SRC’s Policy Committee, noted that Resolution SRC-1 was a policy resolution that will be voted on at this meeting and that SRC-2 is on the agenda for public review and comment only. SRC-2 will be considered at the February SRC Action Meeting. The next policy meeting will be [was]at 440 N. Broad Street at 10:00 a.m. on February 1, 2018. Dr. McGinley also noted that the discussion of the charter school policy will continue at that meeting.
Sunshine Act Violation
The SRC continues to thumb its nose at the Sunshine Act and the Commonwealth Court Settlement that resulted from an APPS lawsuit over SRC violations of that law. Part of that court-ordered settlement stipulated that the SRC would post resolutions two weeks prior to all Action Meetings. Almost every month, however, the SRC adds resolutions in the week before the meeting. Charter school resolutions are posted as “quasi-judicial” and lack any text; thus, the public has no information available to them when the SRC votes on them. Subsequent to the meeting (and their vote), they fill in the text of the resolution–which is not what the SRC voted on. That is a falsification of the public record, and it is a violation of the Sunshine Act and of the settlement. We have repeatedly called on Chair Wilkerson and the legal department (now headed by Lynn Rauch) to address these violations. The SRC is a public body. Its members should respect the rule of law.