by Ilene Poses
On November 17, Mayor Kenney’s 13-member Nominating Panel convened to open proceedings on filling three vacancies on the Philadelphia School Board. They billed the event as a “public hearing”, but it was actually a live television show. No public testimony or interaction of any kind was permitted. The Panel, reading quickly from their scripts, wrapped up the TV show in just over 30 minutes. Chair Wendell Pritichett, former School Reform Commissioner, gave little information on the selection process and did not give the date of the next Panel meeting. He and the Panelists did take time to congratulate each other for their service.
Pritchett mentioned in passing that the Nominating Panel would again be conducting all deliberations in executive session. Pritchett, a Penn law professor, failed to cite the specific reason for moving the Panel out of the public eye–probably because there is none. APPS members protested this same violation of the PA Sunshine Act when the Panel convened in 2018. Did the people of Philadelphia fight so hard for local control just to be shut out of all discussions about our representatives on the School Board? The Panel — itself chosen without any public input — has sent nine semi-finalists, from whom the Mayor will choose his three nominees. The Mayor can ask for more candidates if he is not satisfied with the Panel’s choices; he has until December 26 to ask for more names. City Council must confirm those nominees. In the past, however, Council has done little more than rubber-stamp the Mayor’s choices.