Ears on the Board of Education, July 30, 2020 (Action Meeting, part 2)

by Diane Payne

When we organize and fight, we win. The students, parents, teachers, principals and community members told the Board on July 23 that Dr. Hite’s hybrid reopening plan would put children and adults in harm’s way. Hite and his staff presented an all-virtual plan to the Board one week later.

The Board reconvened the Action Meeting that they had recessed, after eight hours, on July 23.  All eight Board members were present.  [This meeting can be viewed on the Board website. Visit the APPS website to read our summary. Meeting materials can be viewed here]

Wilkerson Reiterates Plea for Fair Funding

Board President Joyce Wilkerson opened the meeting with another plea for funding advocacy.  Wilkerson noted that the state’s inequitable formula results in Philadelphia receiving the lowest per-pupil funding. The District webpage displays detailed information about how the public can engage their elected officials in demanding full and fair funding.  

Wilkerson then asked Superintendent Hite to present his revised reopening plan. She noted that there were working committees that assisted in this plan’s development, but she expressed no objection to the fact that the committees included administrators, principals, and parents–but no teachers.  

Click here to read the rest of the report.

Defenders of Public Education Speak before the BOE, July 23, 2020


Click on the individual’s name to read their testimony.

Dr. Robin Cooper, President of CASA

Dana Carter

Barbara McDowell Dowdall

Lisa Haver

Karel Kilimnik

Stephanie King

Robin Lowry

Maddie Luebbert

Charlie McGeehan

Cheri Micheau

Diane Payne

Zoe Rooney

Dr. Sonia Rosen

Lynda Rubin

Board Must Be Fully Present at Meetings

Dear President Wilkerson and Members of the Board, 

At every remote meeting held by the Board, a significant portion of the meeting displays only a full-screen digital clock. Public viewers are not able to see any member of the Board or the administration. The public did not see the Board for over seven hours at the first session of the July Action Meeting. 

A meeting at which the public is not able to see the Board, especially for hours at a time, cannot be considered a true public meeting. 

We request that you make the screen include all members of the Board and Dr. Hite, along with any administrator speaking, for the entirety of the meeting. The digital clock, during public speaking, can take up one square on the screen. 

If you convene the second session of the Action Meeting with the same format, we request that you explain at the outset of the session why the present technology prevents you from being seen. 

Sincerely, 

Lisa Haver

Karel Kilimnik

Victory on Reopening Plan for District Parents and Educators

In a major victory for students, teachers, support staff, and principals, the Hite administration will present a reopening plan featuring a full virtual program for at least the first two months of school.    

“The health and safety of the children and adults must be the first consideration in any reopening plan,” said APPS co-founder Lisa Haver. “For now, those who feared returning to buildings without proper ventilation and adequate custodial services can focus on making sure children have the tools they need to learn, in particular reliable internet service.”  Haver added that any hybrid plan considered for future months must fully involve District stakeholders.   

Superintendent Hite had submitted a hybrid plan at last week’s remote Board of Education meeting. That plan was met by almost unanimous opposition by more than 100 people who testified over the 8-hour meeting.    Rather than vote to reject Hite’s plan, the Board took an unexpected vote to recess the meeting, taking no action on any of the Agenda Items. The Items totaled over $190 million in spending, including the estimated cost of the hybrid plan.  

“The Board recessed the meeting just after the speakers portion of the agenda. But they must allow speakers to weigh in on the new plan before taking a vote,” said Haver. “The public had months to be heard via surveys and online meetings. We now have just a couple of days to review an entirely new plan. That is not true public engagement. In addition, the public deserves a full explanation of what business may have transpired behind the scenes during the meeting.”    

The Board came under criticism from APPS members and others for apparent violations of the PA Sunshine Act.  Board President Joyce Wilkerson could be heard on an open mic asking someone whether the Board should recess before voting on anything.   Also, the Board also failed to take public comments when a motion was introduced during the meeting.