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SRC to vote on terminating three principals related to cheating investigation

Updated, 3:40 p.m.

The School Reform Commission is hearing a presentation on testing integrity at its meeting tonight -- likely the result of its long-awaited investigation into PSSA test cheating in dozens of city schools.

And in a personnel resolution coming to an SRC vote, three principals are up for termination, effective Friday: Michelle Burns, Deidre Bennett, and Marla Travis-Curtis. All three worked at schools under investigation for cheating on the PSSA exam.

Burns, now principal of Kensington Urban Education High School, was principal of Tilden Middle School when the alleged cheating took place. Bennett, principal of Cassidy, was on the staff at Huey Elementary. Travis-Curtis has been the principal of Lamberton Elementary School.

Sources said that these terminations are related to the investigation, which the state Department of Education initiated after the Notebook drew attention to a forensic analysis of PSSA test results in 2009 that showed a high likelihood of cheating in many schools statewide -- based primarily on statistically improbable wrong-to-right erasures on answer sheets.

Tilden, Huey, and Lamberton were all so-called Tier 2 schools, where the District conducted its own investigation into evidence of widespread adult cheating. The state Department of Education investigated another set of schools labeled Tier 1. There are also 22 Tier 3 schools flagged for evidence of widespread cheating but not assigned to either the District or state for investigation.

At Huey, proficiency rates on the PSSA dropped 43 points in math and 34 points in reading in 2012 after new security measures were put in place by the state and District. At Lamberton, scores dropped 31 points in both math and reading. At Tilden, scores dropped 28 points in both math and reading in 2011, the year after Burns left Tilden and was reassigned to Kensington Urban Education Academy.

Sources have said that scores of Philadelphia educators may have sanctions placed against them as a result of the cheating investigation, which started more than two years ago, although not all of them as severe as termination.  

Also on tonight's agenda is the proposed charter renewal of Philadelphia Electrical & Technology Charter High School, which has also been investigated as part of the statewide cheating scandal. SRC action on the charter's renewal was postponed last month, when District officials said that they wanted to make public information about cheating at District schools before attaching conditions about testing integrity to a charter school's renewal resolution.

Superintendent William Hite, General Counsel Michael Davis and Chief Talent Officer Naomi Wyatt will be delivering the presentation to the SRC on testing integrity at the 5:30 p.m. meeting.

Determining appropriate sanctions against educators is the major reason why the District has taken so long to release the results of its investigation, according to numerous sources close to the probe. The District can take action and also recommend that the state suspend or revoke an educator's credentials.

In the spring, two district administrators surrendered one or more of their licenses as a result of the state's investigation into Tier 1 schools. And an assistant principal at PE&T High School also lost his position and had his administrative licenses temporarily suspended. In the summer, a teacher had his license suspended for three months.  

Robert McGrogan, president of the bargaining unit that represents principals and assistant principals, said that there will likely be further actions taken against educators.

While "under no circumstances do we condone cheating for any reason," McGrogan also said that there may be cases where blame may have been fixed incorrectly. In those cases, he said, the union may get involved on behalf of the educator. 

Councilman Curtis Jones is on the speaker's list for the 5:30 p.m meeting on the subject of "the Lamberton principal," Travis-Curtis. He issued a statement saying that he had been asked, but did not intend, to speak.

He said that he knows Travis-Curtis personally and that "she has a stellar reputation among community members in Overbrook Park and is highly regarded as an educator." Lamberton is in his district.

“I take these allegations of cheating at Lamberton very seriously and I do not condone cheating in any form," his statement said. "But I could not testify on her behalf without knowing the process and results of the investigation. I can’t make a full decision on half information. However, I fully support her taking whatever justifiable recourse to challenge the School District’s decision."

He added that the cheating scandal "reflects the larger issue of tying performance standards to test scores in our schools, which create a pressurized atmosphere where cheating can take root."

 

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Comments (123)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 2:33 pm
And Stephanie Ressler is untouched.....
Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 2:23 pm
WHY? She is the poster child for cheating!!!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 2:19 pm
My first thought was Ressler and Mondesire ( who was found cheating 3 times and warned.)
Submitted by Anon (not verified) on January 16, 2014 6:47 pm
This is only one batch, even McGrogan has said that. There will be many more to come. Stepanie "The Big Eraser" Ressler will get her day.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 6:18 pm
She is not only a cheat, she's absolutely hateful and vicious.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 2:45 pm
How can Deidre Bennett be facing termination for cheating that occurred at a school while she was a teacher???? That doesn't make any sense to me at all. If she was under investigation why did the SDP promote her from teacher to administrator? That also doesn't make any sense at all. Seems to me that the young Ms. Bennett is the fall guy for what happened at Huey. Who was the principal at Huey when the cheating occurred? Why isn't this person mentioned in the article???? Also Ms. Bennett has only been a principal for three years with no allegations of testing cheating. This article barely scratches the surface.
Submitted by the Notebook on January 16, 2014 3:00 pm

Aaron Starke was the principal at Huey in 2009 and 2010. 

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 3:47 pm
So where is he now? Is he being bought up on charges as well?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 3:19 pm
From Huey I was told he became the principal of Pastorious which is now a charter. Is he currently still employed by the SDP?
Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on January 16, 2014 3:17 pm
I think so. He was last year.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 5:43 pm
hes at universal companies... with Nixon
Submitted by Jay (not verified) on January 16, 2014 10:23 pm
No way. That is hilarious. Truly. Whose money pays for that?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 5:10 pm
He's at Alcorn, now a charter (Almost positive he's there)
Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on January 16, 2014 3:39 pm
Why are there no photos of the subjects from the article? That makes it more interesting.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 4:48 pm
I really don't think that educators facing losing their certifications should be a matter for your entertainment. All of their pictures are posted on their school's website.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 3:43 pm
My sentiments exactly!!!!!!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 4:21 pm
What I find interesting is that again, the people's whose jobs are threatened by the top tier people to turn their heads or find employment in, lets say a third world country, better get on the program. Lets talk Ackerman and her group of friends. Yes, Mrs. Ackerman is not a clean as you want her to believe. Only a stupid person would not notice that the test's scores jump substantially under her reign and yet she got bonuses and her friends got bonuses. Where are her friends now? Using the tricks that they learned to help charter schools become successful. Wow. That is politics for you. Fire the teacher who was promoted, did not know 100% of what was going on, and then give the administrators bonuses and let them run charter schools. Good going Commonwealth of PA. On a different note, why are there only 3? Are they the sacrificial lambs of Tier 2, how the other administrators were sacrificial lambs of Tier 1. For the people that cannot do math, the commonwealth says that there are 56 schools however less than 10 have been involved for these 10 schools. Who is doing the math? Who is doing the punishments? Seriously, it looks like the innocent are being prosecuted while the higher ups continue with getting bonus and laughing at the City of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of PA from charter schools.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 9:44 pm
She wasn't the teacher at Huey at the time of the testing scandal, but the Literacy Leader. How she became a principal is more of a mystery given her lack of people skills. Look at the exedous of teachers at Cassidy since she arrived there. Cassidy also made AYP under the previous principal, but hasn't since she was there. The principal at Huey has been mentioned in connection with the cheating scandal before so it's not like it was just Bennett. Remember Ackerman was in charge of who got promoted as well and seemed to be more concerned with color than ability.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 9:57 pm
Deidre Bennett earned her Principal certification through a rigorous program. She then had to take and pass all of the necessary praxis exams required by the state. I was in the same cohort as Ms. Bennett and to suggest that she isn't capable or qualified is simply ridiculous. School based teacher leaders are just that---teachers. Ms. Bennett was a teacher at Huey. How dare you suggest and imply that she was appointed as a Principal because of her color. If Ms. Bennett was not qualified and did not have the appropriate credentials she would have never been assigned to Cassidy.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 10:35 pm
Passing exams is one thing, but being able to get along with people is another. Sorry, but color does play a factor in Philadelphia. Have you forgotten LaGreta Brown down at South Philly? She was no longer certified and had lost her principal job in Jersey, but Philly hired her anyway. How dare you pretend that only qualified and those with appropriate credentials are hired for Philadelphia principals. Once again, think about why a number of us left Cassidy. Guess we're all bad and she's the only good one, right?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 10:14 pm
Ms. Maurer this must be you.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 10:25 pm
Some of you teachers from Cassidy are seeming overwhelmingly biased & paranoid. Really you need a reality check. My name is not Ms. Mauer. How dare you post someone's name but remain anonymous.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 11:02 pm
Have you ever had administrators lie about you to cover up their crimes and laziness? I have, I did not post Ms. Mauer's name, but I do know that Bennett was why Judy left.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 17, 2014 6:32 am
She couldn't keep track of students. They getting lost left and right.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 10:23 pm
Lack of people skills? Why because she doesn't let parents run over her or her teachers or because she ruffles ineffective teachers feathers?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 10:05 pm
Of course, any teacher that complains has to be "ineffective". It's never an ineffective administrator! The former staff that achieved AYP under former principal Crawl were so ineffective they had to leave? It's a poor workman that constantly blames his own tools.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 10:52 pm
I heard the staff disliked ms. Crawl
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 11:04 pm
Some dislike Crawll and some dislike Bennett.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 19, 2014 6:45 pm
The exodus of teachers at Cassidy is NOT because Ms. Bennett came to Cassidy. It is because teachers who were ineffective or received unsatisfactory ratings were encouraged to transfer to other schools because they did not respond to peer mentoring, did not improve in their teaching skills and were generally the weak links. Ineffective teachers were given supports to improve but those who chose not to take the initiative to seek professional development, or were not accepting of those suggestions left to find a more suitable location to fit their needs. Bennett believed that we were there for the children and that anyone who was there for less than that was also encouraged to move on.There are teachers who transferred to be closer to their homes to reduce their commute and teachers who retired in the last few years because of the threat of losing our termination pay, facing a reduction in benefits AND a huge pay cut. This happened all over the school district and will most certainly happen again this June. As for Bennett, the actions of the staff on being told of her leaving was a testimony to the love and support that our staff felt for her. All but a few stayed behind to individually hug her, offer their support and say goodbye for the last time. It was truly inspiring.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 19, 2014 10:04 pm
Some of us know better than the nonsense you have posted.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 19, 2014 10:07 pm
Some of us know better than the nonsense you have posted.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 20, 2014 10:48 am
Sir, stop whining and placing blame on others- your usual.
Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 2:32 pm
Will anyone every pay the price for the cheating at Wagner under Penny Nixon???
Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on January 16, 2014 3:40 pm
Nope.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 2:09 pm
So if I as a teacher in a school has an administrator who cheats does that mean that I can lose my job as well???? Who was the principal at Huey under all of this cheating??????
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 9:43 pm
If you weren't involved in the cheating then why would you lose your job? It's alot harder for teachers to cheat in front of a whole class whereas administrators can do it behind closed doors.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 2:05 pm
What's just so ridiculous about this is that cheating is rampart & widespread and all of the data is on the SDP website. All you have to do is look and see at the trends of the scores when one principal leaves and a new one is appointed. Usually the last couple of years before a prin retires the scores are phenomenal then all of a sudden they drop substantially. Happens all of the time. The actual PSSA graphs look like someone tumbled down a mountain cliff. This is across the board in the SDP. Look at the year before a new principal is hired then the new principal's first year scores. Its statistically implausible. So now I guess the witch hunt begins.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 2:18 pm
The question that was asked about Bennett could probably be asked about others as well, why were they promoted? Wouldn't that have been when Ackerman was in charge?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 3:12 pm
Just goes to show you who's running the SDP a bunch of dummies.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 10:31 pm
Exactly, Ackerman hired LaGreta Brown. Remember her and the racist attacks at South Philadelphia High?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 3:04 pm
So who was the principal at Huey under all this cheating??? I bet that person is now a Deputy Chief of something.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 3:10 pm
I'm eager to see how the case against Michelle Rhee is progressing. All the cheating that went on and the number of teachers she terminated on her watch should not go unpunished.
Submitted by teach to the test (not verified) on January 16, 2014 3:04 pm
Will they announce tonight how many educators are receiving some kind of sanction?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 3:54 pm
Deputy Chief?!? Maybe that person is just a chief of something. Haven't you heard of race to the top?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 3:12 pm
I just reviewed the PSSA data on the SDP website on all 3 schools mentioned in this article. Its quite apparent that cheating occurred. In one case at Huey the scores plummet from close to 70% to barely 20%. That being said cheating of that magnitude was not done by one person and without the directive of the building administrator.
Submitted by SDP (not verified) on January 16, 2014 3:42 pm
So Ms. Bennett receives the same punishment as the two principals for something that happened when she was a teacher? The only other teacher punished received a suspension during the summer? Is that fair? What is her record as an administrator? Where is the principal why is he not punished? Again, the school district rushed to do something I'm sure to impress Corbett and his cronies and screwed it up. I smell lawsuits.
Submitted by Jay (not verified) on January 16, 2014 4:41 pm
Lawsuit? How tacky. Would someone who cheated pursue a lawsuit looking for a lesser punishment? "Your Honor, I don't think it's fair that I get fired from my job as principal because I only cheated as a teacher." The action was wrong and that is that. Their union rep said this was the beginning. Hmm. I wonder if it will be as far-reaching as Atlanta. George Bush, Ackerman and the SRC certainly pushed people into taking drastic measures to protect their jobs, schools, and students from further upheaval. It is too bad for these people. I am sure they have done some good in their lives as well.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 4:48 pm
I personally know Ms. Bennett and I'm just sickened reading this article. What I know about Ms. Bennett is that she is a caring and compassionate educator that has done tremendous good for over a decade with the SDP. Ms. Bennett is a scapegoat for all of this. Where is Aaron Starke in all of this????? I'm praying for Deidre and I'm sure no matter the decision she will be fine. But we are talking about a young woman still in her thirties facing losing all she has worked for. If under the directive of an administrator improprieties took place then that should be addressed but I doubt the fidelity of the accusations toward Ms. Bennett. Ms. Bennett has been a principal at Cassidy for 3 years without even a speculation of any type of impropriety. I think that Ms. Bennett should be judged by her record & not by the record or actions of another.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on January 16, 2014 7:59 pm
I too have heard good things about Deidre Bennett. I worked with a teacher who knows Deidre Bennett. She didn't say how she knew her, but said that she was a "great teacher." This teacher worked at Huey when Aaron Starke was the principal so she probably knows Ms. Bennett from there.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 10:38 pm
If she's such a great principal then why have so many people have left Cassidy since her arrival? Being a great teacher does not mean you will be a great principal. They are two different things. I've use to work there with a number of teachers also worked there and left specifically because of the way she treated them. She did not treat everyone equally.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 11:56 pm
You obviously never had to work under her.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 19, 2014 7:48 pm
When you do your job well, when you are sincere and are there for the children, when you can accept correction and take responsibility for your own failings, when you can learn from your own mistakes instead of blaming them on other's(administrators), and when it is apparent that the love in your heart for your students is shown in the way that you speak to them and in the way you do things for them, and with them, then only then can you understand that everything she did was because she cared about the kids. She cared more about educating the kids and less about what we thought of her because her mission was unselfish. If you have complaints about her character, perhaps you might look inward and try to see what it was in you that made her react to you in that way.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 9:34 pm
Starke has always done right by the kids in our community. His passion has always been to make certain that the children in Philly are afforded an equal opportunity when it comes to education. Bennett is also an amazing leader. They are both being named in a situation that none od us has all of the facts. My prayers are with them at this time.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 9:41 pm
Starke has always done right by the kids in our community. His passion has always been to make certain that the children in Philly are afforded an equal opportunity when it comes to education. Bennett is also an amazing leader. They are both being named in a situation that none od us has all of the facts. My prayers are with them at this time.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 9:43 pm
Starke has always done right by the kids in our community. His passion has always been to make certain that the children in Philly are afforded an equal opportunity when it comes to education. Bennett is also an amazing leader. They are both being named in a situation that none od us has all of the facts. My prayers are with them at this time.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 10:52 pm
Aaron, you only have to hit reply once
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 11:35 pm
You truly don't know what you're talking about if you think there has been no "impropriety".
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 11:49 pm
You truly don't know what you're talking about if you think there has been no "impropriety".
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 10:57 pm
The principal does need to be punished. However, Bennet was a Literacy Leader at the time. Why did she stay at Huey while the Math Leader there left after that year? Maybe that's the question you should be asking.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 3:25 pm
http://citypaper.net/article.php?How-Pennsyl-vania-schools-erased-a-chea...
Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 4:25 pm
What is taking so long with Tier 1 schools? Northeast HS, Cayuga, Roosevelt (she is now at Wilson Middle), Emlen, Forest, Clemente? There are many more Tier II including Penn Treaty, Welsh, Wagner, Strawberry Mansion, etc. Will Nixon and Mondesire walk (away with a mother load of money)?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 6:42 pm
People from the Tier I schools are being dealt with by the state directly. The SDP has nothing to do with them anymore in terms of consequences for alleged cheating.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 4:50 pm
I can't speak for anything that happened while she was at Huey. I can however, say from personal experience that Ms. Bennett is an exemplary principal at Cassidy, and has begun achieving a very necessary shift in the culture of that school in her 2.5 years there - a shift which will ultimately lead to higher test scores the old-fashioned way: increasing expectations on both students and teachers, and holding the students - and their parents - to high standards of civilized behavior at all times in and around the school building. I've worked in parochial schools, private schools, and four different public school districts in two states, under more than a dozen or more principals or principal-equivalents, and she is easily one of the top two or three. Hard-working, caring, and real - she won't blow smoke and tell you what you want to hear just to make you go away, like many in her position. I know nothing about what went on at Huey, but this action by the SDP against her does seem somewhat sketchy, particularly since to the best of my knowledge, there have been absolutely no signs of cheating at Cassidy since she took the helm there as principal. As others have already mentioned, it seems disproportionate to terminate her along with other principals who were actually in charge of their buildings where cheating took place.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 4:38 pm
I totally agree with you.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 4:50 pm
WHERE IS AARON STARKE IN ALL OF THIS????? HE WAS THE PRINCIPAL AT HUEY DURING THE CHEATING. THIS DOES NOT MAKE SENSE!!!!!!!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 5:24 pm
currently Principal of Alcorn Elementary school under Penny Nixon and Universal Companies..
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 5:26 pm
You've got to be kidding me. But you're right because I checked the website. Aaron Starke the Principal at Huey during the cheating is now the Principal of Alcorn under Universal Charter Schools now run by Queen Cheat Penny Nixon, while Deidre Bennett a teacher at his school is now facing being fired now. Does this make any type of sense to anybody????? All of the head cheats scurried out of the SDP quick fast & in a hurry. This would be laughable if it wasnt so damn sad. Why isn't this part of a full fledged investigation??? Its time for the notebook to start connecting the dots. I'm pretty sure that all the answers & leads will be from this blog.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 17, 2014 6:50 pm
The cheating under AAron Starke did not only happen at Huey, it also happened at Kenderton when he was the Principal. We made Safe Harbor because all our learning support students scored Prof and Advanced. The next year we could year we could not even come close. Let's not forget Sheila Mallory that was the duo. She was Batman and he was the JOker. They should be punished, Charter school or not. Deidre lost her job and everything she incurred as a employee in the district. Why wasn't Aaron Starke terminated from Universal also. OOps Penny Nixon stole our money , then went to a charter school. Deidre should blow the whistle, don't be the scape goat.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 8:18 pm
Prior to Deidre Bennett becoming principal at Cassidy, Cassidy had made AYP for three years in a row, without cheating. Once Bennett took command, that status went down and the school has not made AYP since. Parents of highest achieving students were taking their children out in droves. There have been many complaints about bullying and very unprofessional behavior from both parents and teachers. No one, either teacher or principal should have participated in cheating on the PSSA's and I'm sure others will be held accountable.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 9:09 pm
Yea, there test scores went down too ever think maybe cheating occurred there before she got there? I know someone who works there and that under her two terrible teachers transferred and one good transferred to be closer to home. That makes a total of three? Sure sounds like a bad place to work.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 9:14 pm
Thank you!!!!! Bennett didnt cause those test scores to tank. Children don't suddenly forget how to read from third to fourth grade. Those Cassidy scores prior to Bennett were as real as a $3 dollar bill. People wake up!!!!!!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 11:10 pm
The teacher who moved closer to home was at Cassidy for a decade and lived in the same place the whole time. He would have left long ago if it had been a case of just moving closer to home. He left because Bennet loaded up the behavior problems in the two male teacher classes. There were four teachers in that grade level that should have shared the problem students, but the men got the bulk of the problem students. A lot more than two teachers have left or gone on medical leave in the last three years. You sound like one of her pets. As for the test scores the PSSA scores under Crawl were not that high. Hardly something that would warrant risking cheating.The school had not gone well the two years before then. Look at how high the scores were at Huey and then how low they dropped after Starke left. You obviously have your own agenda to defend.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 17, 2014 6:56 am
And those same kids went to three females teachers the following year and all of sudden their behavior improved. One teacher hurt at work left, another who is hurt is not there, one employee a family emergency. Hardly sounds like they left because of her.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 19, 2014 10:53 pm
You miss the point, the majority of the behavior problems were put in the two males' classes even though there were four 5th grades that year. Spreading them out the following year amongst three teachers instead of two obviously helped. The vice principal that did nothing that first year was replaced by a Dean of Students that did try to keep things in control and the demerit system was put in place that year. Not to mention that some of these problem students were shipped out after fifth grade. This is why principals should have no say in class make up. Put the student names into a piles according ability, behavior, etc. and let the next year teachers draw evenly from the piles. When one or two teachers have the bulk of the problem students principals tend to look the other way. When they are spread throughout the classes then the principal has to step in and help solve the problems.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 9:40 pm
I think that the Cassidy staff need to be investigated for cheating as well because its statistically implausible to make AYP for three years and then for the scores to plummet. If you believe that the scores plummeted because Bennett arrived then I have a bridge I'd love to sell you.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 11:13 pm
Get your facts straight. It was one year that Cassidy made AYP, the last year Mrs. Crawl was principal. Cassidy did not make AYP the previous years and was had to jump through various hurdles as a result.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 19, 2014 12:20 am
Yes, remember "safe harbor" ...that is not AYP.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 11:36 pm
Three guesses who wrote this piece.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 19, 2014 10:56 pm
I completely agree with you. And to add to that, the only reason people left besides moving closer to their homes was because she believed people who were not doing their jobs, who did not share her vision for improving the environment by creating a peaceful community conducive to learning, were people who did not belong. They were pressured to change or find an environment that fit with their style of teaching. She made a difference.
Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 4:47 pm
Remember: " Walter D. Palmer Leadership Partners Charter School, an investigation was closed without reaching a conclusion — or adding severe security requirements." Same with Chester Charter.
Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 4:13 pm
Cheating is Ackerman's legacy.... along with a huge deficit.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 4:27 pm
Penny Nixon orchestrated cheating while at Wagner. Mondisiere cheated at Strawberry Mansion. People were promoted as long as they played the game and then when the game changed they retired, found new positions and then left the people left to suffer for all of their wrongdoings.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 5:41 pm
Can and will the SDP take legal actions against former employees?
Submitted by Anonymous on January 16, 2014 5:03 pm
Mondisiere... plain and simple. Cheater, cheater, cheater. Livin' on a big fat pension. That was THE BIGGEST case of cheating I have ever seen!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 6:21 pm
Penny Nixon...plan and simple. Cheater, cheater, cheater too!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 6:11 pm
100% anti cheating. Do not want to hear any of the excuses. I have no sympathy for someone being "directed" by a supervisor to cheat.....you stand up for what's right, report it, avoid it, keep as far away as possible from it. If more people did this, we would not have the extant of the scandal that we ended up having. So, it's great that a person is a wonderful principal now, but the original sin is not erased.
Submitted by Darryl Johns (not verified) on January 16, 2014 7:07 pm
While a statistical analysis of erasers on the PSSA can be indicative of cheating, in and of itself, such analysis cannot PROVE cheating. Further investigation was warranted, but how many years should that take? Unless you have educators confessing to cheating, there is virtually NO WAY to prove that a given educator or educators were engaged in gaming the system. The chain of custody of these tests leaves them open to manipulation; all because the SDP itself was lax in setting and overseeing standards for Testing Coordinators and Principals. The process was compromised. The District and the State should call an end to their investigations. If after 4 years no definitive set of bad actors can be PROVEN to have orchestrated cheating in the targeted schools, then the books should be closed, and efforts placed elsewhere. I liken this whole process to what I saw decades ago in the McMartin Preschool abuse investigation and trails. In the end the State of California wasted $ 15 million trying to prove something that didn’t happen. Did cheating happen in Philadelphia? If a tree falls in the woods…
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 7:07 pm
What a bunch of dopes you all are. Can't you see what is happening!! Not every school with erasers cheated. Even the state says that erasers alone don't mean that a school cheated. The truth is the district has known who had been cheating for years before the state gave this information to the press. Sadly the district is using this information to pretend like it is investigating They are using gestapo techniques to get false confessions. If you don't confess you are lying. If a teacher says they have no evidence that the principal cheated , the teacher gets fired or suspended and called a liar. If the principal says they have no evidence against teachers they get fired. They have not evidence!!! Wake UP!! Hite is short for Hitler!! The notebook should investigate . This is the real story.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 8:45 pm
Please take off the tinfoil hat.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 8:00 pm
Not tinfoil stupid. Saw it with my own eyes, Heard it with my own ears. . I intend to be a witness. Can you say that!!
Submitted by Tim Deery (not verified) on September 22, 2014 10:16 am

Can you please contact me at 610-883-0160. Thanks Tim Deery

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 8:46 pm
He's correct. I've also witnessed this first hand. The report is laced with inaccuracies and lies. They fabricated peoples words and allowed attornies to interview people without their own attornies being present. This is far from over. The district doesn't have any statements nor evidence other than statistical data in some cases. They asked principals to think of who may have cheated in their buildings, when some principals didn't play their game, they deemed them not credible. This isn't over by a long shot. People will be vindicated. Teachers are lined up to testify at arbitration and lawsuits hearings about how the attornies for the district embleshed their words. Don't be so quick to judge without all the facts.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 8:28 pm
Thank you !! That's two of us who know the truth. I hope if called on you will be brave enough to be a witness too. I know there are more people out there who know the truth. I hope they will come forward to vindicate innocent principals and teachers. The district is going to loose a ton of money over this. Money that it can't afford.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 8:48 pm
There has been a real disservice to the children of this SD with all this speculation of cheating in schools. If Ackerman had not pressured her regional superintendents to pressure their principals in their regions to make AYP then this type of thing would not have ever happened. Principals were threatened by their regionals and some harassed with petty memorandums because they're schools were not achieving AYP. There were walk throughs with teams from central offices and even those folks from out of town. We had people from CA , DC who came to tell the teachers and principals had they should run their schools. I sometimes wonder whether it was for Ackerman to make her bonuses and/or to get the Urban Superintendent of the Year Award. That I don't kinow but I think if these principals are being penalized so should Stephanie Ressier who sat on stage in front of all her colleagues and was lauded for a 50 point increase in her test scores across the board. She was moved from Roosevelt to a better school Wilson Middle. She's been rewarded for cheating and lying! If you are going penalize administrators than be equitable and fair and address all of those invovled. Let's be equitable and not penalize some and not the others.
Submitted by Teacher (not verified) on January 16, 2014 8:18 pm
I have worked with Ms. Bennett for 3 years. In that time I have seen her as a tireless advocate for her students. As a leader at our school, she has demonstrated unwavering integrity.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 11:11 pm
Certain teachers got a continual free pass from Bennett. "Unwavering integrity", don't make me laugh. You must be one of her pets. How come some teachers can continually waltz in late and others get written up even if they are just a few minutes late?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 9:49 pm
Bennett and the others made a bad choice....live with it.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 9:01 pm
This is just the beginning. Based on the testimony there were initially 69 educators/administrators involved. I feel for Ms. Bennett. I know what it is to be a young teacher and pressured by an administrator. I know what it feels like now to be a teacher knowing that an administrators actions are wrong but feeling helpless to do anything about it.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 9:53 pm
I also have worked with D. Bennett and am shocked the school district would bring this teacher and not all involved. D. Bennett is the scapegoat for a poor administration and now this young women's life is being turned upside down. She has always held our school together with the highest integrity. Why not let her own staff vote or have a say in this decision of firing such a hard working principal who has spent countless hours trying to change a broken system and make it work? I am very saddened by this for D. Bennett and for all of the families and children of the community where she is an administrator. I can honestly say that I would love to have someone like D. Bennett be the principal of my own children's school because that is how much I trust her to do the right thing. I am honestly and truly, and once again, disappointed in the PSD for the unfair ways and practices. If this principal is let go, if will be a loss to many. With all this being said, the school district knows she is good because why would they have promoted her from teacher to principal. She should not be the person to take the fall for the crimes of others because they disappeared and she stayed loyal to the district. The district that she is a product of!!!!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 11:38 pm
Do all the teachers she bullied out of Cassidy get a vote or only the ones who suck up to her? Cheating is only part of her problem.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 19, 2014 12:27 am
Deidre Bennett is a caring and dedicated educator always determined to do what's best for the children. While advocating for children first she may step on a few adult toes but too bad its not about your feelings as an adult but rather your competency as an educator. She's done a phenemonal job as an educator in the SDP. She's one of the very best and I have no doubt that Ms. Bennett will prevail.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 18, 2014 8:16 pm
She's going to get back her job. Andy Rosen trickery and foolery will not prevail. Morgan, Lewis reports are flawed and have no merit. While there are those who are passing judgement, there are just as many who are supportive and outraged at this witch hunt. God, not man (Cherry, Rosen, Lewin, Gaffney, Hite, Naomi, Diaz, Michael Davis, Corbett or SRC) has the final say. We shall see who's left standing once the taxpayers see the money they will have to pay out. Office of General Counsel along with Andy Rosen, knows they did not follow the process nor did they afford the implicated employees fair and impartial hearings. I guess there is a reason why Andy Rosen, Michael Davis, Jessica Diaz and the rest of general council are not in private practice making tons more money. This is all very sad.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 9:42 pm
Amen!!!!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 18, 2014 8:38 pm
Why is it that when a teacher receives unsatisfactory performance documentation they say they are bullied?? She did her job and if you feel bullied out perhaps you were effective in your job. Nobody pushes out excellent teachers.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 19, 2014 11:54 pm
And nobody fires excellent principals.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 20, 2014 12:51 am
Deidre, hold up your head. It's ruff now but this will all work out. There are numerous people who are supporting you three and the others who will be announced at next SRC meeting. You will get back everything you have lost. This is far from over. People all over the city are saying this is a witch hunt that smells with unethical practices. After you get back what you lost, you can move on. Do not hold down your head or feel ashamed.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on January 16, 2014 9:54 pm
I remember very well when Ackerman bestowed accolades on a charter school in the old St. Stephen's School at Broad and Butler. The skinny was that many people involved in cheating were scared to death with the publicity and that Ackerman herself, knew fully well that it was all a farce. The truth is, The School District bean counters and above like Ackerman ALL knew long ago that cheating was rampant. Anybody even vaguely familiar with statistics and such could see how silly many schools' results were compared with the recent past. They just hoped and I guess, assumed, they wouldn't be called on it. Needless to say, the State bean counters all knew too. None of this is a surprise to anybody. Having said all that, the environment was and is so morbidly sick and threatening that lots of ordinarily rational people, did irrational things which while wrong, was not unexpected. Think of all the unthinkably violent acts people have perpetrated on one another because of religion and nationality differences over the ages.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 10:43 pm
I think that Starke and Bennett were trained under the Ackerman reign to do as Ackerman dictated. They are both very young & couldn't simply retire as an exit plan. Both Starke & Bennett are dedicated educators. I think that the both of them were simply pawns in a much bigger game. Who was the regional during this time? Like someone else said Ackerman pressured her regional sups who in turn pressured the principals who then pressured the teachers. Unfortunately this is Ackerman's legacy.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 10:53 pm
Just following orders didn't work at Nuremburg
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 10:53 pm
Mr. Starke is an amazing administrator. Since the day that I met him, he has been an advocate for the children in Philadelphia. My prayers are with him and Ms. Bennett during this time.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2014 10:01 pm
Mr. Starke was one of the best Principals that Huey had. It was clear that he cared about the kids. Students had plenty of activities and Teachers taught well. As soon as he left everything changed. The students took over the building as soon as he walked out the door. There was a student that had her hair set on fire. In fact, the SDP sent an entire discipline team to regulate all of the incidents that took place that year. Easy to see how test scores went down.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 17, 2014 8:12 am
What happened to Lamberton's principal?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 17, 2014 12:24 pm
Mrs Curtus is a great princple at Robert E Lamberton School.. In my heart i know Mrs Custis will not give the student the answer to the PSSA test... She try so hard to keep the high school open .. the student from Lamberton had wrote letter to the School Board Of Philadelphia to keep the High School Open for them ... All the High School Are at Different School..Hope Mrs Curtis Come Back to Lamberton School Your Student Need U
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 17, 2014 3:57 pm
I agree with you 100% about Mrs. Curtis! I know that she loves her students and want nothing but the best for them at Lamberton. This goes for her current and former students, however with this being said I truly DO NOT not believe that Mrs. Curtis would cheat her students. She was heartbroken when the high school was closed along with the students as well. Needless to say there's something that transpired that had nothing to do with Mrs. Curtis, but someone has to take the fall, right? Very sad.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 17, 2014 1:30 pm
Notebook, I understand cheating in any form is wrong and not to be condoned but I beg you to investigate the pro bono work Morgan Lewis provided the district. During conferences, Andy Rosen stated in reference to Morgan Lewis summaries "you get what you pay for, you want Mickey Mouse work, you get it". Not one interview was done under oath, not one statement was written, signed or dated when accusations were made. People were interviewed by attorney's and not permitted to bring their own attorney, had to use a union rep. They wrote in some reports the district needed to get signed affidavits before doling out any disciplinary actions, that was never done. Request were made to Andy Rosen to provide statements to the accused from the accuser, he put in writing in an email "the district doesn't have statements all we have is the summary from Morgan Lewis". A copy of the email can be provided to the media. District protocol is to provide signed statements to the accused. That precaution is done to prevent people from recanting stories at a later date. They listed people names on the reports they claim they interviewed, these people are going to testify at arbitration and lawsuit hearings they were never interviewed. Each time they called people to be interviewed, there were different attorney's asking questions. Schools requested to see the 2010 DRC report to verify their own data, they have yet to present that data. They inflated data on reports that do not mirror the DRC report of 2009. Level two conference hearings were conducted by Ken Cherry, a former Edison employee. Ken Cherry worked in the district for Edison when scores started to rise. Ken Cherry conducting level two hearings was a conflict of interest. Ken Cherry rubber stamped what Harris Lewin recommended. Andy Rosen is an attorney by craft, he conducted the disciplinary hearings but signed Lewin name to the written document. Harris Lewin is a good friend of Andy Rosen and he did what was told of him to do by Andy Rosen. There were no fair objective disciplinary hearings. Thank goodness there's arbitration and courts for lawsuits. Union reps warned Andy Rosen some of summaries were fabricated and the district would end up with egg on their faces when the lawsuits started. Morgan Lewis wrote their report on what people felt and thought, very little factual information. Their time lines were off. They interviewed people who didn't work at the targeted school during the two years in question. They called neighboring school principals in (who's schools are also under investigation) and asked if they heard about cheating at other schools. You can't take a person job away on hearsay and feelings. Jessica Diaz said out her own mouth, they botched the investigation and it was very little concert evidence. They found people credible on one page and not credible three pages later in the report. The reason it took so long for the punishment to be administered is because no one entity at the district wanted to touch it because of the inconsistencies and fabrications. District officials sat in front of people last evening sharing a report they have no clue about. I'm positive Hite doesn't know all that I've included in this post and the numerous other unethical actions Morgan Lewis took part in. They will not get away with this, everything written above will be verified and will be used to win lawsuits and arbitrations. I caution all of you who are making judgement calls on the flawed report the district presented tonight to hold off with too much judgement until the reports are actually released.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 17, 2014 2:21 pm
Marla, That does sound like a crummy way to be treated. Regardless of how it went down, I just wonder why you did you do it or let it happen when you knew about it ? Sounds like you are confessing in the first line, so I just wonder why you would even consider doing it in the first place?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 17, 2014 4:08 pm
Did I miss a post somewhere? Why do you say that post was written by Marla?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 18, 2014 6:10 pm
Marla did not confess to anything!!! She is not on the blog. Their are enough people that know the truth and are speaking up. That's why the immediate back off by the district. They already ruined her reputation . I hope she sues the h--- out of them . Incidentally, Andy Rosen has hired Mike Rosenberg, one of his friends to take her place at $500 a day.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 18, 2014 6:43 pm
Before entering upon the duties of his office, each attorney at law shall take and subscribe the following oath or affirmation before a person authorized to administer oaths: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this Commonwealth and that I will discharge the duties of my office with fidelity, as well to the court as to the client, that I will use no falsehood, nor delay the cause of any person for lucre or malice." Hey Andy!! Did you forget about this? You're still in America you know.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 18, 2014 7:32 pm
They paid Harris Lewin 500 a day to conduct level 1 hearings and they are currently paying Harry Gaffney 500 a day to conduct hearings. Harris Lewin had to leave to go to Cheltenham School District as an "acting principal" at Glenside elementary school. After Harry Gaffney finish taking money from Philadelphia school district, he is scheduled to head over Cheltenham to assist his buddy Lewin. Nice pay days for both men.
Submitted by Anonymous. (not verified) on January 19, 2014 8:58 am
Andy Rosen is a fine one to be investigating cheating and illegality as he does not have clean hands himself. He took a $4,500 illegal bonus from Estelle Matthews. Remember her? She was walked out the door for her illegal conduct. He went along with and facilitated all of her illegal shenanigans and those of Arlene Ackerman and her principals. So let Andy Rosen throw the first stone of hypocrisy.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 19, 2014 1:39 am
I don't believe the state investigation is going to hold a lot of weight for the schools being investigated for 09/10. There's a one year statue of limitation from when it was brought to the district and state attention. This thing was brought to Ackerman attention and she chose not to entertain it. Nunery, didn't entertain it. It was Pedro Ramos who hired Morgan and Lewis and said he wanted answers and an investigation launched. There's evidence of when and where it was brought to the district attention.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 19, 2014 2:58 am
Don't forget Leroy nunnery came to Philly after a long run with Edison schools, NYC.

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