District official in charge of charter office is out

Thomas Darden, the Philadelphia School District's deputy chief of strategic programs, has resigned, The Inquirer has learned.

A school district official confirmed Darden's departure on Tuesday.

Darden had worked for the school district since 2009.  He has taken some public heat recently for missteps at School Reform Commission meetings.

Darden, whose job responsibilities had included overseeing the district's charter office, publicly misstated the cost of recently-approved and expanded charters to the district at a recent meeting.  He had said the expansions would cost $38 million over five years; the real cost is $139 million.

On Friday, Darden was again under fire for failing to share information about the growth of Belmont Elementary, a city charter that is up for renewal.  The renewal resolution was pulled by a clearly annoyed SRC. 

After Friday's SRC meeting, when reporters asked Chairman Pedro Ramos if he thought he was getting accurate information from the charter office, said that he thought “the record of today’s meeting speaks for itself. Before we contemplate options, we need more clear and consistent information.”

Darden resigned the same day.

He had apparently been job-hunting for some time. He was a finalist for the superintendent’s position in Providence, R.I. this spring, but was not selected for that job.

Darden came to Philadelphia under former Superintendent Arlene C. Ackerman.  He formerly worked in finance and is a product of the Broad Superintendent's Academy.

It wasn't immediately clear who is supervising the district's charter office - a small staff that oversees 80 city charters enrolling about 50,000 students.