Ears on the Board of Education: February 24, 2022
by Diane Payne
APPS members and others, both in person and via written testimony, objected to the Board’s plan to hold small in-person meetings for a select few to meet the next superintendent finalists. Before the public speakers had finished, Vice President Leticia Egea-Hinton, who is spearheading the search process, stated on the record that those raising objections were wrong. Her rationale was that this meeting would be live streamed and they were holding a hybrid town hall open to the public. APPS members in the auditorium spoke up to say that holding one public meeting doesn’t erase the fact that the meeting in question was only open to a certain number of people, chosen in a private process, and that the qualifications for admission ruled out any community member. Egea-Hinton’s defensive response was not an honest effort to try to understand the objections, just to rationalize the Board’s actions. None of the other Board members objected to holding a select meeting to meet the candidates.
The Philadelphia community is shut out on almost every front. We are the only District in the Commonwealth that doesn’t have an elected school board. One person–the current mayor–selects Board members in a secret process not open to the public. The Board shuts down its committees and imposes speaker suppression. If the Board is going to claim that the superintendent search process includes public participation, that must be more than window-dressing. APPS calls on the Board to make both town halls open to the public. Do not bar anyone from attending. Take steps to insure cross representation of stakeholders and let the public have both in-person and hybrid options for attending both open townhalls.