My name is Lisa Haver. I am a member of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools.
With every month comes another set of reasons why it is crucial that the SRC make a commitment to honor the letter and the spirit of the Sunshine Act. The most obvious one tonight is the SRC’s decision, in advance of this meeting, to extend the contract of Superintendent Hite to the year 2022. After seeing people come to these meetings, and to community meetings, to express their outrage and frustration with the state of disfunction and chaos our schools are now in, it is obvious why the SRC does not want to hear from the public about that decision.
Teachers have been the victim of violence in their own schools. Students in schools across the district have gone over a quarter of the school year without a full-time teacher. The debacle resulting from the outsourcing of substitutes, which the SRC not only does not take responsibility for, but refuses to do anything about. The SRC’s abandonment of its responsibility to make sure schools are safe places sends a message loud and clear to our students: that they deserve nothing better.
I ask this question month after month: who is responsible? There is a clear and dangerous lack of leadership in this district. The appointed members of the SRC remain accountable to no one. Tonight they will extend the contract of Dr. Hite without any meaningful opportunity for the public to be heard.
Parents at Wister, Huey and Cooke have been given false information from the beginning designed to shut them out of the process. Special committees were appointed by the district to make recommendations about the future of those schools. No schedule of meetings of those committees was posted. Those meetings have not been public meetings, so again we see a clear violation of the Sunshine Act.
When Governor Corbett appointed Mr. Green to Chair the School Reform Commission, the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools made a written request to the legislature that the confirmation hearings be public. That never happened. Now the SRC has made its decision to rush to extend Dr. Hite’s contract without any consideration of what the parents, students or teachers have to say about it. When Chairwoman Neff spoke to reporters, just one week ago, she spoke on behalf of all of the members of the SRC, and she made it clear that the decision had been made.
My question to Chairwoman Neff: When did the SRC meet to discuss the extension of Dr. Hite’s contract? Who was present at that meeting?