Board of Education Action Meeting: May 25, 2023
by Lisa Haver and Lynda Rubin
The board’s speaker suppression policies are now doing double duty: not just to keep members of the community from speaking but to keep them out of the room altogether. A guard at the door to the auditorium told Lynda Rubin she could go in because she was on the speaker list but barred Lisa Haver because she wasn’t. Haver had tried to sign up but was told by the board that she would not be one of the 30 chosen speakers. She told the guard he could arrest her but that she was going in. Last month some APPS members were detained downstairs because they were not on the list.
We wrote to the board after the April incident, pointing out that they had only set up 82 chairs in an auditorium that seats 240 people. Thus, the same people who were denied the right to speak now no longer have the right to be present. Did the board not want APPS to witness its voting to spend over $500 million in taxpayer money on 78 official items? Or voting on a charter application that would cost the district hundreds of millions over the next five years? A governmental body not accountable to the public can become tyrannical and dictatorial. We need an elected school board.
Board of Education Action and Budget Meetings: April 20, 2023
by Lisa Haver and Deborah Grill
With every meeting, the Board of Education finds new ways to enforce its mission of speaker suppression. Several APPS members who tried to sign up to speak at the action meeting found the window closed after just two hours. APPS member Ilene Poses was not only barred from speaking but was barred from entering the auditorium when she arrived. Security told her that there was no more room in the auditorium. When she called those of us who had made it in, we counted over ten empty seats. Ilene was finally admitted along with several other people.
The board pushes the public away both literally and figuratively. The staff tables in the front of the room set up an ever-expanding barrier between the board and the public. In an auditorium with an official capacity of 240, the board had only set up 82 seats. Lisa Haver asked the board to explain that when she testified; she got no answer.
Ears on the Board of Education: April 21, 2022
by Diane Payne
Over the years, APPS members and others have testified about the barriers to finding basic information on the District website, for content as well as for technical reasons. There is too often a lack of straightforward and honest presentations. The agenda for this action meeting is another such example. Omitted from the agenda posted online and distributed at the meeting, again, were the legislative update given by Board Member Fix Lopez, the Parent and Community Advisory presentation given by Board Member Thompson, and the Student Representative presentation given by Rebecca Allen. None of these were about issues that had just arisen. The agenda also failed to include dollar amounts for Item 8, Item 9 and Item 28. This may lead observers to think these are no-cost items. In fact, Action Item 8 totalled $15 million and Item 9 totaled $16.9 million. Item 28, a 5-year renewal for Mastery Shoemaker, will cost the District a minimum of $50 million. The Board has a duty to inform the public of how they are spending public funds.
Ears on the Board of Education: December 9, 2021
by Diane Payne
APPS filed a formal objection, read during the meeting, to the Board’s violation of the PA Sunshine Act, this time for voting in secret on the charter renewal of Universal Audenried Charter High School. Why does the Board continue the legacy of the SRC by conducting all charter business in secret.
Since the dissolution of the state-imposed School Reform Commission, the hope of District staff, students, families, and community members for a more responsive school board have been dashed repeatedly by the members of the Board. They eliminated all of the Committees except one, eliminating an important venue for deliberation and dialogue. They recently reduced the Policy Committee meetings from quarterly to twice a year. A pattern of Board disenfranchisement continues with its violations of the PA Sunshine Act. The Board refuses to post the full text of any charter school item until after they vote. They post the full content the day after the vote, with no notice that it was previously not posted, thus falsifying the public record. The Board bars people from speaking before they vote on Action Items. At this meeting, the Board added to this list knowingly deliberating on public business in executive session.