Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ackerman's deal could be worth $1 million

7:30 p.m.

Ackerman's deal could be worth $1 million

7:30 p.m.

The Philadelphia School District just released Arlene C. Ackerman's separation agreement, which could be worth $1 million when you factor in pay for unused sick and vacation time, health insurance through June, 2013 and other benefits. Her $905,000 payment includes $405,000 in anonymous donations.

Read the agreement between Ackerman and the SRC here.

5:30 p.m.

It was a wild SRC meeting, to say the least.

Attorney Leon Williams summed up the sentiment of the largely pro-Arlene Ackerman crowd when he said said Ackerman had been lynched.  He said the SRC held the rope. "What was the crime that Dr. Ackerman was lynched for?" Williams asked.  "The crime was she did not kiss the rumps of the politicians.  And that she gave too large a contract to a black vendor."

 The meeting was politically charged, racially tense and totally unlike any SRC gathering I've ever been to.  The SRC was booed, called "Judas" and its members told repeatedly to resign.

The SRC did not answer any questions.  They did not make any kind of statement about the buyout or offer any information about donors.  When reporters approached them after the meeting adjourned, all the members declined to comment.  Several police officers physically barred reporters from the SRC members, ushering them out of the auditorium and away.

3:40 p.m.

The SRC has formally approved Arlene C. Ackerman's $905,000 buyout package.  It was a unanimous vote; no SRC member made comments.  After the vote was taken, the audience erupted (yet again) with cries of "out, out, out" and "all of them must go" and "traitors!"

Earlier, a number of pro-Ackerman speakers expressed their displeasure with the agreement.

"I, the parents of Philadelphia public school students, and many of the 1.5 million people of the great city of Philadelphia can in no way support this proposed agreement," said State Rep. W. Curtis Thomas (D., Phila.)

Speakers also expressed outrage over donors who contributed $405,000 to the Ackerman buyout remaining anonymous.


2:40 p.m.

It's already a wild SRC meeting.  When the four members entered the auditorium, the packed auditorium booed.  Loudly.

"We have experienced some changes and challenges in the past weeks," SRC Chairman Robert L. Archie Jr. said.  "Our main focus is the children, and going forward we hope to pull the other distractions aside and focus on what is best for them and their future."

The restless audience is calling out often.  Archie was booed again during the SRC roll call.

There are a number of speakers scheduled to talk about now former Superintendent Arlene C. Ackerman and her $905,000 buyout, which the SRC is scheduled to approve later this afternoon.

EARLIER:

Two days after it was announced that Arlene Ackerman was out as head of the Philadelphia School District, all eyes are on the School Reform Commission.  The SRC meets today at 2 p.m. and will vote on Ackerman's $905,000, public-private buyout.  There's no suspense there - their attorneys negotiated the deal and it's widely expected that they'll vote to approve it.

But as my colleague Jeff Gammage and I wrote in today's paper, there will be a lot of questions for the SRC - such as, why did they approve a contract extension for the superintendent in February, then start talking about a deal to remove her in June?  Who are the donors who ponied up $405,000 to the Philadelphia Children's First Fund, a nonprofit started by the district in 2003, on whose board Ackerman sat and both SRC Chair Robert L. Archie Jr. and Acting Superintendent Leroy Nunery II sit? My colleagues Jennifer Lin and Amy Worden wrote about that for today's paper, too.

More on that: yesterday, Zack Stalberg, head of the government watchdog group Committee of Seventy, sent Archie a letter formally requesting that the SRC "disclose the names of all private donors who are contributing to Arlene Ackerman's generous buy-out." Stalberg, and 70, clearly have concerns about the private donors.  "The inescapable message sent by this lack of transparency is that there is something to hide.  Moreover, keeping secret the names of donors prevents the public from knowing whether or how their favors might be returned.  You are the clear leader of the Philadelphia School District and a director of the charity through which these secret donations apparently are being funneled.  You have the responsibility - and surely the power - to restore some faith in the SRC by identifying contributors. The longer the delay, the worse they will look when their names are ultimately revealed."

Follow along here as I liveblog the meeting, beginning at 2 p.m.  Or, follow me on Twitter @newskag.

About this blog

Inquirer reporter Kristen Graham writes the Philly School Files blog, where she covers education in Philadelphia, both in and out of the classroom.

During the school year, you’ll frequently find her hosting live chats about the district on Philly.com.

Please do pass along the scoop about what’s going on at your Philadelphia public school; Kristen welcomes tips, story ideas and witty banter.


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