The second installment of Philadelphia School Board nominee reports

SB nominating panel

As promised, APPS researchers have completed the independent profiles of the first round of nominees chosen by the Education Nominating Panel. Mayor Kenney, in response to community protests about the possible conflicts of the nominees, and the dearth of educators on the first list, reconvened the Panel on Friday, March 16.  APPS members Barbara Dowdall, Lynda Rubin and Lisa Haver testified, again decrying the lack of public deliberations and the ongoing violations of the PA Sunshine Act.  The Panel voted to send eighteen more nominees to the Mayor.  The Mayor has twenty days to choose nine of the forty-five submitted as his final choices.

We will be releasing our extended profiles on the additional candidates later this week.

Please review our first report, as important updates and links have been added.

Lisa Haver and Deb Grill

Click here to see the second installment of biographies
and APPS analysis of School Board nominees.

APPS Researches School Board Nominees

SB nominating panel
The Philadelphia School Board Nominating Panel

As APPS members and followers know, we have been fighting to open up the process for the selection of the new school board.

Mayor Kenney has taken control of the process, raising questions about how independent the Nominating Panel has been.

The Nominating Panel is a governmental body; its members are City officials. The Panel is obligated to follow all laws, including the PA Sunshine Act.

The Sunshine Act stipulates that citizens must be able to witness and have an opportunity to speak about actions taken by government officials, whether elected or appointed. Only two of the Panel’s meetings were held in public; all of the vetting of candidates was done behind closed doors.

The Mayor and the Nominating Panel, Chaired by former SRC Commissioner Wendell Pritchett, also ignored calls to release the applications. Thus, there was no way for the public to know who was being considered or to have anything to say about them. We believe that the public has a right to know who will be representing them as public officials. The school board will be overseeing a $3 billion budget and making decisions which will affect the future of our city and our schools.

What follows is the first installment of reports on the twenty-seven candidates chosen by the thirteen people on the Nominating Panel. The italicized paragraph is the official bio released by the Mayor’s office. What follows is what we were able to find by doing a basic Google/LinkdIn search. If you see any outdated or incorrect information, or you have additional information on any of the nominees, please contact us at

Please follow our posts as we will be updating with information on other nominees.

–Lisa Haver and Deb Grill

Click here to read the first installment of nominee reports.

Click here to read the second installment of nominee reports.


Supporters of public education speak before the School Board Nominating Panel – February 26, 2018

This video is supporters of public education speaking before the School Board Nominating Committee on February 26, 2018.
Timestamps for speakers
Barbara Dowdall, APPS 0:00
Lisa Haver, APPS 2:25
Karel Kilimnik, APPS 4:17
Alan Foo, teacher 6:52
Diane Payne, APPS 9:20
Maureen DiStefano 11:20

APPS members have an Op Ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer protesting lack of transparency in Mayoral selection of a new school board

clark and kenney 2

Integrity of Philly’s new school board needs protection | Philadelphia Inquirer – February 22, 2018

by Rich Migilore and Karel Kilimnik

Unlike those in every other school district in the state, and in almost every district in the nation, we the people of Philadelphia continue to be disenfranchised in the governance of our public schools. To make matters worse, the return to local control, after the 17-year reign of the state-imposed School Reform Commission, will devolve into one-person control unless our elected officials take steps to guarantee the independence of the new school board.

 Following the mandates of the current City Charter, Mayor Kenney appointed a 13-member nominating panel, which is scheduled to hold a public meeting Monday and vote on a list of names that Kenney will draw from to select a nine-person school board. The mayor had directed the panel to hold previous meetings in executive session, effectively barring members of the public from witnessing or taking part in the process in any way.

This absolute control by the mayor can be mitigated in several ways. First, the nominating panel, under the leadership of Chair Wendell Pritchett, should have opened all of its meetings to the public. As city officials, members of the panel are obligated to obey all laws, including the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act, which codifies the right of the people to witness the actions of all government officials, whether elected or appointed.

 Checks and balances must be instituted. City Council has proposed an amendment to the charter which, if approved by the voters in a referendum on the May ballot, will provide for Council confirmation of all future nominees. In addition, Council President Darrell Clarke has proposed language in the referendum to stipulate that members of the board of education can only be removed “for cause.” That is an essential provision to protect the independence and integrity of the board and should be adopted.

Kenney has voiced his opposition to the for-cause provision and wants board members to serve at the pleasure of the mayor. That is inconsistent with the principles of democracy that underpin the governance of our public school system.

Clarke explained in a response letter to Kenney that the board of education, under the Educational Home Rule Supplement to the City Charter, is a “separate and independent body” from the office of the mayor. State law makes school districts separate and distinct local educational agencies.

 Clarke is correct when he says, “The key idea here is independence: the for-cause requirement will provide some assurance that the members of the Board of Education can make independent decisions that they believe are in the best interests of our City’s children – even if the Mayor or Council disagree.” The for-cause provision protects school board members from being removed for political reasons or for speaking out in opposition to the Mayor or City Council.

Council should scrutinize every aspect of the appointment process and make every amendment necessary to protect the integrity of the democratic process. That includes the present lack of transparency and secrecy of the mayor’s nominating panel and its violations of the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act.

 These are all constitutional issues as well as legislative issues.  The right to procedural due process is guaranteed by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Democracy matters and our state and federal constitutions cannot be nullified at the schoolhouse door.

Rich Migliore, Esq. is a former Philadelphia teacher and administrator and the author of “Whose School Is It: the Democratic Imperative for Our Schools.”

Karel Kilimnik is a retired Philadelphia early childhood educator and co-founder of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools. Email: