No 'golden parachute' for Ackerman, lawmaker says

UPDATE, 4:10 p.m.

A state lawmaker on Friday called for Mayor Nutter and Gov. Corbett to have Superintendent Arlene C. Ackerman fired.

Rumors that Ackerman's departure is imminent have been swirling for weeks. 

The call comes via a letter sent to Nutter and Corbett by district critic Rep. Michael McGeehan (D., Phila.).

"No golden parachute," McGeehan said in a news release.  "Fire her."

McGeehan contends that Ackerman should be terminated by the School Reform Commission for cause and not allowed to collect salary and other compensation for the unfilled terms of her contract.

"From 2008-2011, in just three years, our estimates put Ackerman's haul from taxpayers in salary, annual raises, and performance bonuses at well over one million dollars," McGeehan said in a statement. "That's a payout that she could nearly double in minutes with her resignation under the current terms of her contract. That just can’t be allowed to happen."

By the terms of her contract, Ackerman can be fired for incompetency, negligence in the performance of her duties, or failure to comply with the school laws of the state.

A district spokeswoman issued the following statement about Ackerman's rumored departure: "Unless the powers that be decide that her services are no longer needed at the District, she intends, and wants, to remain in the position, fighting to ensure that all students receive a high-quality education."


Supporters of Philadelphia schools chief Arlene Ackerman who gathered at a rally Friday said there’s a movement afoot to push Ackerman out.

“We’ve heard that there is a move afoot to remove Dr. Ackerman, that they will discontinue all of the 2011-2012 Promise Academies, so we had to act,” said Pamela Williams, organizer of the gathering, which drew about 15 people.

Promise Academies are district-run turnaround schools that receive extra money to operate.  There were six such schools in the 2010-11 school year; 11 more are planned to open in September.

Williams wants to see Ackerman serve out the life of her contract, which runs through 2014.  She also wants Mayor Nutter to promise $15 million to keep Promise Academies open, and she demanded that Chief Financial Officer Michael Masch open the district’s financial records for all to see, she said.

Intense heat moved the rally, which was supposed to be held outside, to the atrium inside district headquarters at 440 N. Broad.

Williams led the event, and spoke for 20 minutes about  the problems of education and how Ackerman is working to solve the issues.

“We stand here today to say: Give her the opportunity to work through her Imagine 2014 initiative,” Williams said.

About 15 people showed, most with the group Mothers in Charge, an organization that works to stop youth violence. Dorothy Johnson-Speight, the founder of the group, said she thinks most people in Philadelphia think Ackerman has done a good job.

“We support her. We stand behind everything that she’s done since she’s been here in the district. She's really doing some great programs and making a difference in children’s education,” said Johnson-Speight.

Williams attributed the lack of attendance at the rally to the heat, and said another rally will be held Tuesday at City Hall.

“Don’t think because I have this little bit of people behind me, that there isn’t a force of parents and civic leaders and people who care about the children in the city of Philadelphia,” Williams said.

Ackerman has been a controversial figure during her tenure in Philadelphia, drawing the ire of many.