Testimony of Lisa Haver to the BOE, November 21, 2019

Here we are again at 440 No. Broad Street—where accountability and responsibility go to die.

You can operate a charter school like Boys Latin which fails to meet ANY of the 3 major categories, where your SPR rating for 3 consecutive years is in SINGLE DIGITS, where you are cited for consistent barriers to enrollment and failure to provide due process to students, where you can just refuse to sign your renewal because you don’t want to be told to clean up your act, where conditions disappear after private negotiations with District officials—and then your charter will be renewed anyway. And the public will know nothing about the terms of that renewal until AFTER the vote—even though this building is in America. I asked for one Board member to explain why they would renew a charter that meets no standards.  I got no answer. No accountability and no transparency. The founders of Boys Latin are well connected both politically and financially. As I said last time, when there the Board creates a vacuum of information, people will come to their own conclusions.

You can be in charge of the office that has overseen the construction debacle at Ben Franklin High, the biggest snafu to hit the District in years. Not just the construction practices that put students’ health at risk, but the lying, whether outright or by omission, to parents and the community, which was documented in an October 18 Inquirer article. The same person who oversees the facilities including Peirce and Nebinger and Randolph. Will you be fired?  No but you will be relieved of some of your duties while being paid the same amount.  You will be protected.  And no one will be held responsible for the cost to the District, not just in dollars but in trust with the community.

You can be the CEO of Mastery Charter,  including Douglass elementary where students have been drinking contaminated water for years. The adults who knew about it, who could see the actual brown water, did nothing—other than make sure that they had non-tainted water to drink. Douglass is a Renaissance charter. Will Mastery’s CEO  or any officials be held responsible for endangering the health of hundreds of children?  Not likely, since this Board just renewed a slew of Mastery charters in September, with no conditions.  No responsibility and no accountability, with the blessing of the Board of Education.  Political connections help here too.

You can be in charge of all of this and you will be protected.

So it is with much trepidation that we move now into the new charter application process.  Both applicants have financial and political connections.  One has already been endorsed by the biggest names in Eds and Meds: Temple, Drexel and Jefferson. One charter has already received a $75k startup grant from PSP. On PSP’s board is one founder of Boys’ Latin; just retired from that board is the president of Drexel. On the board of PSP’s lobbying arm is the former principal of a Mastery schools.

So yes, some of us are worried about the ability of this Board to stand up for the interests of the District against the political wishes of charter investors.