Testimony of Lisa Haver to the BOE, May 28, 2020

At the Nov 2019 Policy Committee meeting, when I objected to the Board eliminating its policy 903 on public speakers, I was assured that the public’s opportunity to be heard would not be compromised. But I was right. The School Reform Commission’s policy was to ensure that an equal number of speakers on both sides could be heard. The Board’s policy no longer ensures a fair hearing on both sides of an issue. But the Board is actually violating its own policy by cutting the time from 3 minutes to 2 for each speaker, using the crisis as a justification. We heard one Board member complaining before the May committee meeting about the number of speakers, but the reality is that less time is spent by all participants who no longer have to travel to the meetings. The Board should stop violating its policy and reinstate the 3-minute speaker time. 

Although the Board refuses to post the costs involved, the 5-year renewals of the 2 charters on the agenda will cost taxpayers a minimum of $100 million. The CSO report assigned a DOES NOT MEET rating in academics to Douglass elementary, a Renaissance charter which Mastery has clearly not turned around. The Board has maintained a “see no evil” stance around news stories that Mastery did nothing about toxic water in its water fountains, not even notifying parents. The Board rightfully calls for reform of the PA charter law, but the Board has now hidden every step in the charter renewal process, from secret negotiations with charter operators, to lack of public hearings, to the Board’s illegal secret votes.