Testimony of Lisa Haver to the BOE, 12/10/20

Based on the report by the Operations Chief last week, I am asking the Board to explain the arrangement made between the District and the contractor at Lowell and the buying of the equipment in the playground update. The Board should also explain the arrangement between the District and the contractor at the new school being built in the NE. It sounded like Mr. Mc Neill said last week that the developer bought the property and will sell it back to the District after construction is completed. If this is correct, the Board should explain how and why this deal was made and for whose benefit it was made.

Sadly, I expect no answers because that is not how the Board rolls. The Board made a quick announcement last week that it was disbanding two more committees. The Board made a commitment when it replaced the SRC to be more transparent and to make sure that the public would be able to get answers on important issues. The Board is now rescinding that promise without admitting that it is rescinding its promise. How Orwellian to tell the media that you are focusing on student achievement right after disbanding the Student Achievement committee. 

The Board absolves itself and the Administration as a matter of course.

The Board turned its back on the students and staff who were endangered and actually harmed, some hospitalized, during the construction at Ben Franklin/SLA by holding no one responsible, including Dr. Hite. 

The Board turns its back on District stakeholders by refusing to take even the smallest step toward charter school reform. No one will even broach the subject of the mega-salaries of charter CEOs, or ask why taxpayers are footing the bill for 2 GLA CEOs—one paid $403K/year, the other $327K. Both are paid more than Dr. Hite—for operating one school each. 

And again, the Board most shamefully turns its back on the people who work at 440, in particular those in the Charter Schools Office, who were slandered by the charter operators making baseless accusations of racial discrimination against them—without a word of defense from the Superintendent or any member of the Board. 

Members of APPS and OCOS held a press conference yesterday demanding, as citizens in a democracy, that we be heard by our elected officials in the selection of new Board members. When voters choose government officials, those officials are accountable to the voters. We don’t get to vote.  When Board members are chosen by just one person, then we should not be surprised when they hold themselves accountable to that one person. From the Hilco deal to contracts with fake graduate schools like Relay to brazenly violating the Sunshine Act to accepting foundation money with no questions asked to hanging their own employees out to dry—not a single Board member breaking from the pack and standing up for what is right. Board members are chosen in secret meetings of the Mayor’s Nominating Panel. Should we be surprised that secrecy has become the norm? With the elimination of the Committees, we have returned to the days of the SRC.