The State Ethics Commission has spoken: School Reform Commission member Sylvia Simms committed no violation when she advocated for, then voted to give a Philadelphia School District school to a charter organization.
In a letter dated Oct. 24, the commission said there was "insufficient evidence to support a finding of probable cause" and so it would not open a full investigation.
The allegation centered on Simms' actions regarding Wister Elementary, a district school through the end of the 2015-16 school year. Simms, in an eleventh-hour reversal of Superintendent William R. Hite Jr.'s recommendations, moved to give Wister to Mastery Charter Schools. She said she did so because she was moved by parents' concern and nothing more.
Simms' sister works for a firm that has contracted with Mastery.
School district attorneys had previously said that Simms had no conflict of interest and could vote on the Wister charter conversion.
Simms, on Thursday, said she was pleased but not surprised by the state's conclusion.
"I was more surprised," she said, "that somebody said this was wrong in the first place. There's so much other work we can be doing. People should be spending their time making their schools better."
Simms said she is looking forward to finishing up her SRC term early next year. Mayor Kenney will not re-appoint her.
But that doesn't mean the end of her involvement in Philadelphia schools, said Simms, a former district bus aide who founded Parent Power, a group that promotes family engagement in schools.