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.
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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.
Click on the title to read a transcript of the individual speaker’s testimony.
Testimony at the Action Meeting, November 18, 2021
No Revisions to Policy 911 by Dana Carter
Public Mistrust Needs to be Built Not Trampled by Karel Kilimnik
Better Ventilation Systems Are Crucial By Lizzie Rothwell
Transform Our School Facilities into Healthy Schools by Greg Windle
Out Sourcing and Charity by Diane Payne
School Nurses’ Morale by Kathleen Celio
Testimony at the Policy Committee Meeting, November 4, 2003
Student Voter Registration Policy by Ilene Poses
Voter Education and Registration Policy by Thomas Quinn
Policy Committee Report: November 4, 2021
by Lisa Haver
About 4 hours before the Policy Committee convened, APPS sounded the alarm on twitter: “New @PHLschoolboard Policy 911: “Staff members shall not give school information or interviews requested by news media representatives without prior approval of the Office of Communications.” We will ask whether that applies to all #PhlEd staff as that is clearly unconstitutional.
District employees and union members responded, tagging members of the Board. Only one Board Member, Mallory Fix Lopez, echoed that alarm at the meeting, rightly calling the policy a “gag order”.
Lisa Haver, the only public speaker who addressed Policy 911, told the Board that teachers and staff “do not surrender their Constitutional rights when they become employees of the School District of Philadelphia.”