On Monday Dec 4 the Resolutions were posted. According to the terms of the APPPS Sunshine Act Lawsuit they are supposed to be up two weeks before the actual meeting. They weren’t. Then four days later two Resolutions concerning Aspira Olney & Aspira Stetson popped up. No descriptions, simply the usual quasi-judicial language saying we don’t have to tell you anything. Charter Schools are contract schools and these contracts are public documents that should be available to the public as our tax dollars are funding them. Resolutions 8 & 9 are not formal resolutions, as they provide nothing other than the topic of the resolution—they do not state exactly what the SRC will be voting on. That is a clear violation of the PA Sunshine Act. Why is the SRC considering these resolutions now? It could be that Aspira has applied to open two new stand-alone charters and they need to clear up any potential problems. The hearing for all 8 new charter applications is on Mon Dec 18 at 2:30. Public testimony starts at 5:30.
It has been almost two years since we last saw any resolution dealing with Aspira Olney & Aspira Stetson. At the April 28, 2016 SRC Action Meeting the Charter School Office strongly recommended non-renewal. Attorney and former mayoral candidate Kenneth Trujillo presented himself at the May 19 2016 meeting as “Oversight Counsel” for ASPIRA, Inc; he admitted that ASPIRA had funneled money designated for Olney and Stetson into their other enterprises, but promised to correct that “cross-collateralization”. Trujillo told the SRC commissioners that ASPIRA Inc. had engaged William Blair and Company, a privately held financial services firm that provides investment banking, equity research, brokerage, asset management and private capital services.” What does this have to do with getting Aspira’s finances in order? Commissioner Bill Green made it clear that the SRC would be meeting with Aspira representatives to ensure that the company maintained control of these two schools. Since then the public has heard nothing.
The CSO recommended non-renewal for both of these schools based on numerous problems academically, financially, and with their governance. On top of that there are the sexual harassment charges against the highly-paid CEO Alfredo Calderon that led to a $350,000 payment to his accuser as well as his removal by Mayor Kenney from the Phila Commission on Human Relations. Fox 29 reported the story that included allegations of harassment of parents, students, and staff members.
Now with the district on more stable financial footing why would the SRC want to continue paying a vendor to run these two schools? Wasn’t the Renaissance Charter program supposed to fix them?