Philly School Files: Is this transparency?

Today, the Daily News' Regina Medina tells us how the Philadelphia School District may be violating the Sunshine Law by not bringing before the public certain key hires.

Most recently, the district hired David Hardy as chief academic support officer at a $160,000 annual salary, but never brought the matter before the School Reform Commission, as state Sunshine Act dictates. But Hardy's hire wasn't the only one where public scrutiny was skipped over. The Daily News reviewed SRC records for a year, and found that several other top employees were hired without formal review by the commission and the public. They included Deputy Superintendent Paul Kihn ($210,000), Chief Financial Officer Matthew Stanski ($175,000), Sophie Bryan, who worked in the charter school office and now in the superintendent's office ($100,000), Chief Operating Officer Fran Burns ($175,000) and Chief Human Resources Officer Naomi Wyatt ($180,000).

The district said it would review its process, and said a computer error may have led to the error.

And while that certainly could be the case, it does not make the SRC's case for transparency. This commission has emphasized that the public has a right to know exactly what's going on in the district, but it doesn't look good that multiple central office staffers - all of whom make $100,000 or more - were left off public agendas.

In the same department: another complaint I hear frequently lodged by members of the public is how agendas are not often available for meetings in a timely way. Sometimes, documents telling the public what the SRC will vote on aren't available until just before the meeting. It's tough to sign up to speak at a meeting a day in advance when you don't know what topics are up for discussion.

What do you think?

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