At fiery meeting, Ackerman supporters rally

Sacaree Rhodes, of The African Daughters of Fine Lineage, arrives to the applause of a small gathering at a meeting in support of Arlene Ackerman on Tuesday at the Kingsessing Recreation Center. (David M Warren / Staff Photographer)

A fired-up group of Arlene Ackerman supporters met in Southwest Philadelphia Tuesday night, vowing to back the superintendent as she fights to stay in Philadelphia.

Activist Sacaree Rhodes led the group, which included State Rep. Ronald G. Waters (D., Phila.)

“We should stand up for her — if we stand up with her, we stand up with children,” Waters told the crowd of more than 50, who crowded into the lobby of the Kingsessing Recreation Center.

Rhodes said the group will push for all elected officials to make statements on their positions on Ackerman, whose tenure is rumored to be near an end. 

She also lambasted School Reform Commission Chairman Robert L. Archie Jr., and demanded that he be ousted for his role in a deal to give Martin Luther King High School to an organization with ties to State Rep. Dwight Evans (D., Phila.)

That deal ultimately fell apart.

Archie has said he did nothing wrong.  At Mayor Nutter's direction, the city's Chief Integrity Officer investigated the matter, but the report has not yet been released.

Rhodes said she had just spoken by phone with Ackerman, who did not attend work Tuesday or the meeting.  But, Rhodes said, “she informed me that she’s going to work tomorrow.”

A cheer went up from the audience when they heard that news.

Rhodes called on supporters to meet at district headquarters to usher Ackerman into her office Wednesday.

No deal has been struck for Ackerman to leave, Rhodes said.  

“She intends to stay here and work as long as Philadelphia needs her,” Rhodes said.

Activist Pamela Williams, a Baptist minister and school police officer, urged the crowd to keep fighting for Ackerman.

“Every day, we’ve got to beat them up,” said Williams, who is on medical leave from her school job.  “Don’t listen to anybody who says, ‘She’s gone, it’s a done deal.’”

Williams said she had filed state ethics complaints Tuesday against Archie and Evans for their roles in the King deal.

(I live Tweeted the meeting - you can check it out here.)