Philadelphia School District communcations boss quits after 2 weeks

Whoever said that working in broadcast television was demanding perhaps has never worked in the communications office for the School District of Philadelphia.

Just two weeks after being hired as the district's chief public-information officer, Lisa Mastoon, a former television producer, quit her $190,000 district job Friday, citing personal reasons, a district spokeswoman said.

Yesterday, a district spokeswoman, confirming Mastoon's resignation, said it had come as a surprise to the staff.

"From the staff's point of view, we didn't know she was going to quit [before Friday]," said spokeswoman Barbara Farley.

Even Superintendent Arlene Ackerman said she was "shocked and disappointed" when she heard the news late Friday.

"I did not know it was coming," she said last night. "I just hired Lisa. I wish her well."

Mastoon, who most recently specialized in strategic communications for Ceisler Media & Issue Advocacy, is on a scheduled vacation this week, Farley said.

Mastoon, who won two Emmys for local news coverage, started at the district Aug. 2, amid numerous structural and administrative changes made by Ackerman in recent months.

During her brief tenure, Mastoon fielded recent controversies surrounding her boss, including Ackerman's decision to block employees' access to district payroll data.

She is the second high-level executive to abruptly resign in recent weeks. The district's former safety chief, James Golden, stepped down last week.

Ackerman said Mastoon's "tough, high-pressure" position requires a lot of time and she promises to be involved in finding the next person to fill the vacancy.

"People who take this job have to realize it's 24 hours a day, seven days a week," she said. "We have to find the right person with the right temperament, and the kind of lifestyle that meets such high demand."