Response to the Sept. 15 blog post called “SRC stalls again on four contested charter schools,” by Avi Wolfman-Arent and Darryl Murphy.
Thanks to the Notebook for giving a more complete picture of what has been going on with ASPIRA. One correction: The Fox 29 report did come up at the meeting. I referred to it in my testimony. I stated that the former employee who filed the lawsuit, and an EEOC complaint, referred to [Alfredo] Calderon's repeated bragging of his "sexual conquests of parents, teachers and students." Is anyone at 440 [District headquarters] investigating allegations of sexual conquest of students?
The charter renewals may be "in limbo," but the question is why? The School Reform Commission's Charter School Office strongly recommended non-renewal and gave more than 25 reasons for that. We know that the SRC has been negotiating with ASPIRA since May, when [former City Solicitor Ken] Trujillo was given 27 minutes to testify, during which he admitted that ASPIRA misused taxpayer funds – which he euphemistically called "cross-collateralization."
The SRC needs to be asked what is stopping them from taking back these schools. A five-year charter is meaningless if the SRC can indefinitely postpone making a decision.
The Charter Office also gave extensive reasons for its recommendation for non-renewal of the Universal schools. Again, with no explanation, the SRC has postponed that decision. Why? Are they also in negotiations with Universal?
These private negotiations are violations of the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act and constitute ex-parte communications in what the SRC has repeatedly called "adjudicatory" matters.
And what is the reason for the postponement of the Mastery renewals, which despite evidence to the contrary, the Charter Office did recommend for renewal? Again, is the SRC negotiating with Mastery?
The Notebook would be doing a service to its readers and the community by investigating these matters.
Lisa Haver is a retired Philadelphia teacher and co-founder of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools.