School Reform Commission member Sylvia Simms has denied berating student protesters last month but a video that surfaced Wednesday shows her doing just that: Saying they're "probably in failing schools."
The incident happened during a screening of the film Won't Back Down that was interrupted by about 20 members of the organizing group Philadelphia Student Union.
On Wednesday, the group released a video that shows an agitated Simms getting close to the students, who had sat down to disrupt the proceedings.
On the video, Simms can be heard saying the protesters are "probably in failing schools."
Another adult present at the event shouted, "Lock them up!" at the students, who chanted, "Save our schools!" over the film.
In an Inquirer interview after the protest, Simms said she could not remember exactly what she said at the event, but denied telling the students they attended failing schools.
Simms, at the time, said she had "noticed we have a lot of failing schools. It's my job to try to fix as many schools as I can."
Simms declined to comment Wednesday, but Philadelphia School District spokesman Fernando Gallard said Simms was not clear about her message.
"She was not degrading the students," Gallard said. "She was trying to say, 'You are probably going to one of these failing schools we're trying to fix.' "
Simms, a former district bus aide who was appointed to the SRC by Mayor Nutter, has taken major public heat for yelling publicly at students, and for her message.
At an SRC meeting held shortly after the protest, she did not address the controversy, but Chairman Bill Green did.
"Commissioner Simms is one of the most powerful voices for students in Philadelphia," Green said.