Thursday, August 28, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

On the Ackerman watch

Emerging from district headquarters to greet supporters and speak to the media, Philadelphia schools chief Arlene C. Ackerman was unequivocal - she's not going anywhere.

On the Ackerman watch

UPDATE, 2:10 p.m.

Emerging from district headquarters to greet supporters and speak to the media, Philadelphia schools chief Arlene C. Ackerman was unequivocal - she's not going anywhere.

"I am superintendent of schools," Ackerman said.

"I'm going to stay until I can't stay anymore," she said. 

She said she had no negotiations for a buyout going on "right now. At this point, I am just going to focus on being superintendent," Ackerman said.

Several sources have told The Inquirer that a deal is being worked on that would give Ackerman less than the $1.5 million buyout she is entitled to under her current contract.  A portion would come from the district and a portion would come from a private foundation to which donations could be tax-deductible and anonymous.

Ackerman said that as far as she knew, the School Reform Commission still supports her.  Last week, SRC Chairman Robert L. Archie Jr. read a statement saying that the SRC will continue to work with Ackerman under the terms of her contract.

But Ackerman's supporters say that Archie and others are trying to push Ackerman out, and say that she is being told to stay away from work some days.

Ackerman has missed numerous days in recent weeks.  She was not at last week's SRC meeting, or the opening of the Superintendent's Leadership Conference Tuesday.

Ackerman, who suffers from asthma, said she had been ailing in the past few days.

After Ackerman spoke, activist Sacaree Rhodes burned a copy of the Inquirer, saying the paper's coverage of Ackerman has been racist.

"The devil is on our feet," Rhodes shouted as the paper burned.  "The Daily News and the Inquirer has done nothing but treated this woman like she has committed a crime!  The only crime she has committed is demanding justice for all."

"You're going to pay for it," Rhodes added.

Later, members of the Pennsylvania Black Legislative Caucus arrived at district headquarters to meet with Ackerman.

State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams (D., Phila.) said he strongly supports Ackerman, and called the SRC's handling of the situation "embarrassing."

State Sen. Shirley Kitchen (D., Phila.) said that Ackerman deserves the city's support.

"The children have made more progress under her" than they have in the past, Kitchen said.  "We need to think about the children here instead of personalities. We want her to stay because it is best for children."

Kitchen said Archie should be removed as chair of the SRC.

She and Williams were joined in the meeting with Ackerman by state Sen. Leanna Washington and Reps. W. Curtis Thomas and Tony Payton.  The group met behind closed doors for more than an hour.

Afterwards, Waters and Williams said they will request immediate meetings with Archie and Mayor Nutter.  They said they want the SRC to take no action on Ackerman until they meet.

EARLIER:

As speculation mounts that Superintendent Arlene C. Ackerman is on her way out, supporters say she's coming to work today and they will usher her into her office at district headquarters on North Broad Street.  Will it happen?  Check back for updates.  As usual, I'll be live Tweeting; follow me @newskag, or here.

Read today's "Where is Arlene Ackerman" print story here.

Most of the calls and e-mails I've received from readers center on the interesting tidbit that some of a rumored buyout package for Ackerman will come from donations accepted through a private foundation.  They would be anonymous and tax-deductible.  The idea of private money being used to make someone go away is something we haven't seen before.

I'll bring you more as it happens.

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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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