Menu
Donate today!
view counter

Ackerman details pressures to change her mind about King HS

By the Notebook on Sep 16, 2011 05:33 PM

by Bill Hangley, Jr. for
Notebook and WHYY/NewsWorks
 

Arlene Ackerman, Philadelphia's recently departed superintendent of schools, claims she was threatened last spring with disclosure of embarrassing information about her personal finances if she did not help a politically connected bidder, Foundations Inc., land the charter contract for Martin Luther King Jr. High School.

“I was told by someone that if I didn’t get my mind right about this Foundations situation, that something would be leaked about my finances,” Ackerman said in an interview this week.

Ackerman said that conversation took place just days before Fox29 News reported that she owed $20,000 in back taxes. The Fox report aired on April 12, during the heat of a behind-the-scenes battle for King’s charter, a five-year contract worth an estimated $12 million a year.

Ackerman said she recounted her entire story to the investigator charged by Mayor Michael Nutter with probing the King controversy, Chief Integrity Officer Joan Markman. She said she also told Markman about a number of other ways she said she felt pressured to support Foundations, a New Jersey-based nonprofit with ties to both state Rep. Dwight Evans and School Reform Commission Chair Robert Archie.

Speaking by phone from New Mexico, where she was visiting family, the former superintendent declined to identify the person whom she said issued the warning about possible financial disclosures. She said Markman knows the name and she would prefer that the mayor release the information himself “since there were other people that were interviewed and can corroborate what I said.”

Ackerman called on Nutter to release the results of his investigation, launched nearly five months ago. “I think it’s tragic, and unconscionable, that the story hasn’t been told,” she said.

She said the mayor himself had never lobbied her on behalf of Foundations.

Mark McDonald, a spokesman for Nutter, declined to comment on Ackerman’s statements or anything else related to the report.   

Nutter announced his probe last April, after a Notebook/NewsWorks joint investigation revealed that Archie organized and took part in a closed-door meeting at which Evans successfully convinced Mosaica Education of Atlanta to turn down the King contract so that Foundations could have it.

Foundations has been Evans’ partner for decades in a variety of education projects, and over the years its executives have given him thousands in campaign donations. Archie and Evans are longtime friends.

Archie called the closed-door meeting on March 16, just hours after the SRC voted to award Mosaica the five-year charter to manage King High School. The company had been the choice of an advisory panel of King parents and community members and was endorsed by Ackerman.

The SRC chairman, who has said he was acting in his official capacity, called the meeting despite an apparent conflict of interest; his law firm, Duane Morris, has represented Foundations, and he routinely recused himself from public SRC votes involving the nonprofit.

Along with Evans and Archie, Leroy Nunery, then Ackerman’s deputy, also attended. Nunery is now the acting schools superintendent.

Ackerman said she told Markman details of two other, previously unreported private meetings she attended with Evans, one of which included Archie. She also said she gave Markman the name of “someone close to Dwight Evans” who told her that the King question represented a “career decision” for her, and that failing to support Foundations over Mosaica would jeopardize her professional future in Philadelphia.

“I heard that several times,” said Ackerman.

While Ackerman did not say she was certain that Fox29’s tax story was connected to the threat she allegedly received, she said the timing raised questions for her.

She also said she has wondered if the fact that her tax attorney was with Duane Morris LLP, where Archie is a partner, had anything to do with the story leaking.

A spokesperson for Duane Morris did not respond to a request for comment.

Fernando Gallard, a School District spokesperson, said that Archie would not respond to Ackerman’s statements or answer questions about the source of the Fox29 tax story. Gallard said the District’s general counsel had determined that “it is inappropriate to comment at this time on any aspect of ... Markman’s review.”

Evans did not respond to requests for comment.

Ackerman, who has said that the King controversy marked the beginning of the end of her tenure in Philadelphia, said she hopes the mayor releases the results of his King probe soon.

“I think the public needs to know exactly what happened, so that this won’t happen again,” said Ackerman, who stepped down from her position in August after months of controversy.

Long wait for answers

When he announced his probe, Nutter, who appointed Archie to the SRC, called the King controversy an “important issue” and promised results “as soon as possible.”

Since then, Nutter’s staff have announced no timeline for the King report’s release and have provided no details on what it will contain, or why it has taken so long to complete.

Ackerman is not the only one calling for answers about King.

Conchevia Washington, parent of a King student and chair of its School Advisory Council, said she is anxious to see the mayor’s findings. She said she recently asked Markman about the report’s status. “She informed me that the mayor has had the report since the summer,” said Washington, who was among Markman’s first interviewees. “Why it has not been released … I just don’t know.”

Washington said that among the things she’d like to know is whether the mayor himself played a role at any time. “Is there something that his office could be trying to hide?” she asked.

The Committee of Seventy, an ethics watchdog group, has also called on the mayor to release his findings. “It seems like the King report should have been out a long time ago,” said Seventy’s president, Zack Stalberg. “It did not seem wildly complicated, and I cannot understand why it would take so long for them to release the results.”

Ackerman said the mayor never expressed to her any opinion about who should get the King contract. Asked if Archie or anyone else ever gave her reason to believe that Nutter knew about the controversy or had an opinion, she responded, “No comment.”

The mayor has said that Evans never lobbied him personally on the matter.

Unanswered questions

One result of the controversy is clear: there are no immediate plans to turn King into a charter school. Foundations withdrew from consideration for the King contract soon after Archie’s role was revealed. King, a 1,000-student neighborhood high school in Germantown with a long history of lagging academic achievement, stayed under District control as a Promise Academy, which will bring it some additional attention and resources, as well as a largely new teaching staff.

But many unanswered questions remain, starting with the details of Archie’s pivotal March 16 closed-door meeting. It has never been revealed what exactly was said to convince Mosaica’s John Porter to suddenly reverse himself and give up the lucrative contract,

Porter has said he voluntarily gave up the King contract so as not to interfere with Evans’ plans, but he has declined to speak in detail. Evans has said that he lobbied hard for Foundations because he considers them trusted, effective partners. Archie has explained his role by saying said he wanted to facilitate dialogue among the various parties. Nunery has never spoken on the record about his role, although Ackerman has said that Nunery was “shocked” by what he saw in the meeting.

As for why Evans, Archie, and others were so anxious to see Foundations win the King contract, Ackerman said she knows only that Evans considered a Foundations-run King as central to his plans for a coordinated network of neighborhood services in Northwest Philadelphia. Foundations had already been playing a management role at King since 2003.

“I was told that it was important to a larger plan for that community,” Ackerman said. “That was as much as I was ever told.”  

Stalberg said that Nutter can help answer questions by releasing the results of his King probe. “The longer we have to wait for the report, the more doubts people are going to have, and the less people are going to trust the final result,” Stalberg said.

Ackerman said she hopes the public hears from Nutter soon. “The report is in his hands – all of us have cooperated. Not only me, but dozens of people who were involved in this situation,” she said. “We gave hours and hours of our time. And I think it would be respectful to all of us, but more importantly to the public, to have this report released, and put it to bed once and for all.”

Look for more to come on the controversy at King High School in the upcoming October 2011 edition of the Notebook, with a focus on school turnarounds - out next week. To receive a copy by first-class mail, become a member.

Click Here
view counter

Comments (65)

Submitted by Wake Up Philly (not verified) on September 16, 2011 6:46 pm

Has anyone delved into Ackerman's role with Mastery? Wasn't she a board member or had been a board member?
I think there are many questions concerning all involved in the fiasco at King. We need to have the full story concerning all the players. I believe Arlene would have received some type of remuneration if Mastery had received the contract! She deflects and throws up a good smoke screen.
I see Arlene is still talking - I guess she doesn't have intentions of honoring the agreement that she signed. No way should she have walked away with that mount of money. We the taxpayers are now footing this horrendous bill!

Submitted by ProPublicEducation (not verified) on September 17, 2011 7:36 pm

Kudos to your questions. Ackerman always cries when she loses, despite the fact that she uses the same tactics or was in league with private (either profit or "non-profit") businesses. For someone who's been kicked out or "let go" with big pay-offs from her last 2 superintendencies and not retained after being a 2 year fill-in for a predecessor who was fired in her first top job, she sure seems to have created the fantasy that she's a successful boss.The empress has no clothes syndrome. BEWARE the education management industry. It's all about the money.

Submitted by ProPublicEducation (not verified) on September 17, 2011 7:58 pm

As per Mastery... Mastery has been getting away with lack of accountability and being their own best promoters with little, if any, investigation into their practices and covering up of student problems for years.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 18, 2011 5:52 pm

Yes, Mastery may be the biggest farce of all but their time will come and it shan't be long. If even 10% of what I have been told by very reliable sources is true, they'll step in it soon enough and even their pol friends won't be able to cover it up, just like Foundations and the joke called Imhotep.

Submitted by Debbie (not verified) on September 18, 2011 9:22 pm

Can you share any of these details. From what I can see, Mastery is the real deal. Please let me know what I am missing.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 19, 2011 10:55 am

You need to get your facts straight. When has Ackerman ever been associated with Mastery? Mastery was never up for the King contract. Do you mean Mosaica? Don't slander the name of Mastery by mentioning it with Ackerman. Please get your facts straight!

Submitted by Wake Up Philly (not verified) on September 20, 2011 7:43 am

Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa - call it a senior moment. I did mistakenly type Mastery in place of Mosaica - mistakes are made and I stand corrected.
You evidently have close ties with Mastery sorry to have offended you. Personally I think they all need to be monitored and investigated.
It is public money paying the taxes that support all schools! Charters are public schools and not private as some like to think!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 20, 2011 9:30 am

I was on a SAC committee and I am pretty sure Mastery was only interested in Gratz and did not even bid for MLK>

Submitted by Wake Up Philly (not verified) on September 21, 2011 8:23 am

Thank you for pointing out my mistake. I am happy to hear that you were on a SAC Committee. I personally feel more people need to volunteer for the SAC's at their schools. :-)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 16, 2011 7:09 pm

NO MORE ACKERMAN - stop giving her the attention she wants, enough already. It's a slap in the face to every tax payer and those who really care about education and the kids everytime we continue to put her face and B.S. in the press.

Submitted by Teach (not verified) on September 16, 2011 7:18 pm

She lied about the "threatening letter" supposedly sent to 440 from a school computer and now she's lying again, to somehow justify her irresponsible handling of both personal and business finances. Does she understand at all the that amount in back taxes she owed was equal to a year's salary of a classroom assistant - one that must now go completely without health care because of Ackerman's self-centered, irresponsible reign of error?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 16, 2011 8:06 pm

I'm not an Ackerman fan, but I'm not sure she's just making this stuff up. It seems, from lots of sources, that Bob Archie is incredibly shady. He basically refuses to talk to the press, offers absolutely no transparency about the SDP. etc.

Ackerman wasn't a great leader, but the problems in the SDP run a lot deeper than her.

The SRC doesn't seem to be doing anything, except occasionally ensuring contracts are given to the proper political people. While Ackerman is definitely at fault in the budget, where was the SRC -- full of laywers, bankers, etc-- when everyone with six brain cells was cautioning that the budgets of the past few years were totally unsustainable.

I don't think it's a problem with the structure of the SRC, per se (look at our fine elected city council...), but with the particular people on the current SRC who don't seem all that interested in actually doing the job, except when if give them access to make back-room political deals.

Submitted by Teach (not verified) on September 16, 2011 10:41 pm

I think she's making up the threats - and that she was on Archie's side until he decided she had to be cut loose for other reasons. She has since gone for blood, knowing this is the issue that could really hurt him. She's a fraud - she's never believed in parents' rights.

I agree with your assessment of the SRC.

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on September 17, 2011 8:44 am

Sandra Day O'connor joined more than 2, 200 visitors yesterday to the National Constitution Center to celebrate the 224th birthday of our Consittuion which creates democracy as our governance system in America, All of our laws emanate from that document including those that pertain to school governance in Philadelphia.

May I take this moment to acknowledge the festivities yesterday including her visit to Jackson Elementary School in South Philadelphia to promote the study of our Consittuion in schools. She stated, "Only eighty percent of eighth graders can identify the three branches of government."

It would do us well at this time in our discussion of the governance of our school system to remember the idelas we believe in as a democratic society and ask ourseleves, "How can can we make those ideals come alive in our schools and school system to improve our collective endeavor?"

School governance is a major issue of our times and it is critical to the well functioning of our schools and the quality of service we provide to our children and our community. As we discuss the issues of how our school board, now the SRC, is appointed or elected, could we please think about those ideals we stand for as American citizens.

After my extensive study of school governance over the past 10 years, I have come to this as one of my primary conclusions -- "Democracy is the purification process for the ills that plague our schools -- the Constitution cannot be allowed to stop at the schoolhouse door."

We would do well to govern our schools on the same ideals as embodied in our Constitution. Democray is the sine qua non for Greatness in Our schools.

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on September 17, 2011 8:28 am

Excuse me please. She said only "eight percent" (8%) of 8th grade students could identify the 3 braches of our govenrment not eighty percent. Sorry for the senior moment. (Is there a way we can correct that mistake? It is embarrassing. Sorry everyone. My bad.)

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on September 17, 2011 9:25 am

Corrected version: (I apologize for the typos in my previous post of this comment.)

Sandra Day O'connor joined more than 2,200 visitors yesterday to the National Constitution Center to celebrate the 224th birthday of our Constitution which creates democracy as our governance system in America, All of our laws emanate from that document including those that pertain to school governance in Philadelphia.

May I take this moment to acknowledge the festivities yesterday including her visit to Jackson Elementary School in South Philadelphia to promote the study of our Constituion in schools. She stated, "Only eight percent of eighth graders can identify the three branches of government."
It would do us well at this time in our discussion of the governance of our school system to remember the idelas we believe in as a democratic society and ask ourseleves, "How can can we make those ideals come alive in our schools and school system to improve our collective endeavor?"

School governance is a major issue of our times and it is critical to the well functioning of our schools and the quality of service we provide to our children and our community. As we discuss the issues of how our school board, now the SRC, is appointed or elected, could we please think about those ideals we stand for as American citizens.

After my extensive study of school governance over the past 10 years, I have come to this as one of my primary conclusions -- "Democracy is the purification process for the ills that plague our schools -- the Constitution cannot be allowed to stop at the schoolhouse door."

We would do well to govern our schools on the same ideals as embodied in our Constitution. Democracy is the sine qua non for Greatness in Our schools.

Submitted by J Taylor (not verified) on September 18, 2011 9:44 am

It's hard to see how Robert Archie has remained at the head of the SRC. Shady seems to be a kind way to phrase his use of influence and power--but we see a lot of that in Philadelphia (and in humankind) and shouldn't be so surprised. What we should have are some checks in place to allow for citizen response to sleaze, and an elected school board, which would not be without its own serious greed and manipulation, would at least give us the option of recall.

Ackerman brought bullying to new heights at the SDP. Her ugly style of management engendered systematic ill-treatment of many of her employees. The heavy boot she brought down on the head of her teachers was not selective and hurt as many good teachers as bad ones. Archie, Evans, and numerous others were her partners in this abusive mismanagement of the system. Evans is probably untouchable, but Archie and his fellow SRC mates need to go.

Ackerman, Archie, Evans: bullies, all three. They are each other's best friends when there's plenty of pickings at the trough, and they turn on it each like rabid dogs as soon as times get tough. I'm sure all three have gone through many friends and allies in their lives. Their loyalty is not to people or beliefs; it is to themselves.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 17, 2011 4:16 pm

PLEASE----Even Arlene is telling the truth here and we all know it. This whole CHARTER FIASCO reeks of fraud, political grabbing of easy money and the whole 9 yards. It won't stop until the joke that is charters come to an end or there is some way to really monitor them, not whitewash them the whole time. Feel free to call me a troll but we all know it's true in our heart of hearts. A POX on all their houses and they all better hope there is no God.

P.S. Why is Archie not in jail??? By the way, walk into the Daroff Charter and see for yourselves what a crime they have going on for all to see. They don't even try to hide the scam.

Submitted by MLK Promise Academy Teacher (not verified) on September 16, 2011 7:04 pm

This makes me SICK. Examine the article carefully -- the concern was about the MONEY one group or another would be able to control. Charter operators and their political enablers seem to be primarily focused on how much money they can grab. Again, no mention of the education of the students. What a foul stew of money-grabbers are the SRC, the charters, and, of course, buyout maven par excellence, Ackerman.

Submitted by tchr16 (not verified) on September 16, 2011 7:44 pm

who cares, go away, you're done, it's a disgrace, move on!!!
no more ackerman stories!!!!!!

Submitted by Inspired_Apple on September 16, 2011 7:16 pm

I didn't think I could lose any more respect for this woman.

Wrong again. She is a weak, corrupted woman that will not leave Philadelphia alone. All she did was admit that she a) can't manage her own money let alone a billion dollar district budget b) succumbs to threats and blackmail instead of leading and sticking to her conviction & c) is a malicious politician still trying to slop together a heartbreak story and "destroy enemies"

We need to look at the larger issue: corruption in Foundations & the SRC.

It's so sad. Hey -- on another note, you think Ackerman reads The Notebook now? ....bet she does....

Submitted by Inspired_Apple on September 16, 2011 7:34 pm

Had she come out and admitted this BEFORE they actually did it and backed what the people wanted while simultaneously dealing with her taxes, I'm pretty sure the public would have rallied against her (on that specific cause)

Submitted by Audax (not verified) on September 16, 2011 8:08 pm

Whatever the reasons are for her coming out (and personally, I could care less if she was cajoled or pushed at the moment) and pressing to have the report released, she is for once, in the right. It does need to come out. The Notebook should make a Freedom of Information request for it, especially if it is indeed finished. People also need to stop wondering and pointing out that Archie was involved in that meeting. Nunnery was there as well. He knows what happened, he talked to Arlene, and now he too is tainted AND keeping quiet.

I'm glad she's gone. I've started my year off better than any of the previous ones that she was here for, but for once, she is right in that it needs to come out.

Damn, that hurt saying it.

Submitted by tom-104 on September 16, 2011 8:35 pm

A plague on both their houses! Ackerman was looking out for her friends at Mosaica. Evans and Archie were looking out for their friends at Foundations. This is little better than a mafia turf war for power and control over lucrative contracts. Where is the future of the students in any of this!

This is the future if we continue down the road to privatization which Ackerman advanced. We will have private interests fighting over access to tax payers dollars, and the students will lose any hope for an education and a decent future. How far are we going to let this go?

Submitted by Geoffrey (not verified) on September 16, 2011 8:22 pm

This is exactly right - I'm certain she foisted Mosaica on King and is angry that she was out-manuvered by Evans and Archie. This holier-than-thou whining is just another sign of her megalomania. As for the Nutter report, there is obviously something to hide. Don't be surprised if Archie steps down soon - just after securing some type of confidentiality agreement that shields him from any incriminating reports.

Submitted by Bill Hangley (not verified) on September 16, 2011 8:03 pm

Tom, for what it's worth, I pressed Ackerman on the Mosaica angle when we spoke.

While she acknowledges a past connection with Mosaica's John Porter (he was a student at the Broad Center when she was on the faculty, and she was his faculty advisor), she denied ever discussing his company's bid (she says when he asked for advice she told him to "put his best foot forward" and that was it) or having any contact with him during the process. She also denied, strenuously, meddling in any way with the SAC that voted 8-1 for Mosaica. Finally, she denied that (as some have suggested in Notebook comment threads) her sons have ever worked for, or sought work with, Mosaica. (Porter, incidentally, has told me the same things).

That's not to say that there isn't more to the story - if someone knows something I should know, I'm all ears - but that's what I've been told to date.

Submitted by tom-104 on September 16, 2011 10:23 pm

Bill, I for one cannot trust anything she says. As you state, she has been deeply involved with the Broad Foundation. One of their methods for advancing their privatization agenda is to go as much under the radar as possible so the public cannot see their true agenda until it's too late. They will lie and obfuscate if that is what is required.

Even if she didn't discuss this specific bid by Mosaica, what other explanation can there be for her support of them except her previous relationship with them? I do not recall either side advancing specifics about the program they are offering MLK which would make them superior to the other. Its all about getting access to the money, not about the students' education.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 17, 2011 9:51 am

A worthwhile follow-up though is why there were only two companies bidding for MLK. One would think that a host of companies would look to bid. On the larger front, it doesn't seem surprising that some of the school choices felt pre-determined. Mastery for Gratz, ASPIRA for whichever school they got. Was there any competition for Audenreid? So it does raise questions why Mosaica felt encouraged to go up against Foundations.

I just think the whole mythology that SACs had a lot of options from which to choose is what's at play, and that does go back to what the original intent of turning over schools was - was it just a contracts process or was it a meaningful exploration into the best learning opportunities each company offered.

Notebook's doing an amazing job on this story. Keep it up! I won't stop reading.

Submitted by Geoffrey (not verified) on September 17, 2011 10:23 am

Excellent analysis. We can see that much of the PSD has been effectively colonized and handed over to an array of private interests. This is what makes Ackerman's outrage so phony - and also why ANYONE serving on the SRC, including Ramos when he joins, is actively working against the public interest.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 17, 2011 10:42 am

Keep up the good work Bill 'Sherlock Holmes' Hangley; I love you. As one of the persons interviewed by Markman and able to vouch for Dr. Ackerman's story, I want the whole truth to come out. I know as FACT that Nutter is a key player in the entire scandal and knew exactly what Archie and Evans were doing to assure King be given to Foundations. But oops, God stepped in and watched out for the children. Those heathens didn't anticipate that. I am truly thankful that we had Arlene, even for a short time, as she has made a world of difference. Finally, there is a chance to close the achievement gap so white folks, get over it! Race is key in your disdain for an Afican-American female graduate of Harvard - haters!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 17, 2011 1:33 pm

Work that minority dodge for all it's worth, baby! Do you really think AckAck made a "world of difference"? I'd expect alot more from a Harvard graduate than what Queen Arlene had to show. Sounds like sour grapes now that your gravy train has ground to a halt. "Haters", I love how you clowns think you can throw that word up and everybody is suppose to quiver in fear at your political correctness. Why don't you do something about all the cowardly haters down at South Philly High before you start pointing the finger?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 17, 2011 2:33 pm

Honestly, I think one reason there wasn't much competition for King is that, in general, turning around a high school is not easy -- very few operators anywhere in the country are willing to do it. (Even Mastery, with their rapid expansion, was only willing to try one, but they've taken on several elementary/middle schools in the same year before).

At the high school level, I'm not sure the lack of options was due to corruption, so much as the fact that very few charters, etc. are willing to take over existing high schools. Most prefer to build a school a grade at a time.

To the extent that SDP played a part, it would probably be in trying to charterize too many high schools at once, such that the number of schools was nearly as high as the number of interested and qualified providers.

Submitted by MLK Promise Academy SAC (not verified) on September 17, 2011 3:28 pm

Just for record, the SAC was originally presented with four options (John Hopkins, Universal, Foundations and Mosaica), however, the first two dropped out without explanation. We still don't know what happened, because the SDP Rennasaince Program did not require them to offer a reason.

Submitted by Veteran of WPHS "Renaissance" (not verified) on September 17, 2011 10:59 am

This case reveals the many underlying problems with simultaneously 1) setting up a semblance of community participation and 2) increasing the contracting out of public school functions. The believing group of parents and community members who were on the King SAC -- quickly put together and without adequate time to really understand the history and context of what had happened at their school -- were given an advisory role in choosing a provider. They took it seriously and made a decision based on their knowledge and the parameters given to them. But school district contracts have always generated competition and involve wheeling and dealing and favors. By opening up to contracting to more than functions like providing security equipment, food services, etc. -- that is by contracting out schools -- you invite that set of aggressive business tactics to the running of the core educational functions of public schooling. And then we're surprised when the community decision-making and the contracting interests collided in the situation at King? The whole turn-around process was ill-conceived, hurried, and poorly run, particularly the community participation aspect. Ackerman may have thought that she was in good faith giving the community a voice, but the ham-handed way in which she set up the process and her obliviousness to community context and history created the debacles that were West Philly and King. Community participation can work, but it isn't a one shot deal and it can't be manufactured from the central office of the school district. I hope that our next superintendent is someone sensitive to local context and respectful and patient enough to know that community involvement needs to start with getting to know the whole range of interests that are in each community and recognizing and respecting the value of existing community improvement efforts. But this is not something that can just be left to a superintendent to handle. Hopefully, we can continue to work to organize community support for our neighborhood schools so we're ready when the next school leader comes along.

Submitted by Hope Moffett (not verified) on September 16, 2011 8:57 pm

The no timeline thing is not quite true. At the press release that Mayor Nutter held on the day that Dr. Ackerman's departure was announced, he gave a timeline of three weeks. Those weeks have come and gone.

Submitted by Bill Hangley (not verified) on September 16, 2011 11:13 pm

That's true, good point.

Submitted by Are you kidding (not verified) on September 16, 2011 8:18 pm

Seriously, she just needs to let it go. We've moved on, school has started and the CHILDREN she so DEEPLY cared for have forgotten her name. Onwards and upwards.

Submitted by Teach (not verified) on September 16, 2011 10:45 pm

The children never knew her name. How could they? They don't read the Notebook or the Inquirer and she only showed up to one or two schools a year, cut a ribbon, made a speech and skedaddled. She was probably afraid one of the little tykes would give her a cold.

Submitted by imsteena (not verified) on September 17, 2011 3:51 pm

Wrong. Many knew her. And they know she's the reason many of their favorite teachers aren't back.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 17, 2011 4:04 pm

I don't know any students that met Ackerman - neither the students I teach nor my children who are SDP students. The only time anyone saw Ackerman was in the monthly self-promoting newsletter publisehd by Ackerman's PR staff. Nearly every page had a picture with Ackerman. Otherwise, she was invisible.

Ackerman is self-serving and a megalomaniac. While I'm sure Archie, Nunnery, Evans and Nutter are involved in wheeling and dealing over MLK High School and ther SDP contracts, Ackerman was never an innocent bistandard. Anyone who leaves with $905,000 plus 2 years of health insurance, pension, etc. is in it for the money. Meanwhile, I had to buy my students notebooks, pens, etc. just to start off the school year.

Submitted by Teach (not verified) on September 17, 2011 6:38 pm

Interesting that regardless of the publication or the medium, the word most associated with Ackerman is "megalomaniac." It's not a common word, yet it's such a good fit that her photo could go next to the dictionary entry.

I, too, have gone over my $100 allotment so the students in my class would have school supplies. I'd love to see a list of Arlene's yearly charitable donations.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 18, 2011 9:37 pm

I too, have gone over the $100 allotment, the $250 tax deduction and will probably go through more money, just to ensure that I have some of the things that my students need in school. On Saturday, Pathmark had copy paper on sale, something that I try to keep an eye on, it was $1.99 a pack, I brought all 12 packs on the shelf because we all know about the two packs of paper a month and I am hearing that some schools give out 1 pack a month and some haven't gotten any this month. I went to Staples to get paper as well, $4.99 a pack, limit of 2 with a $3.99 rebate for the paper. I try hard to keep abreast of the back to school sales at Staples for glue, glue sticks, crayons, copy books, pencils, pens, just so I have what I think every classroom should have. Now, will I start out trying to find copies of textbooks that should be in our schools to teach the subjects that we are required to teach, probably because that's what we do, we will find a way to find what we need for our classrooms. One teacher said on Friday she was going to buy a projector for her classroom. I ended up buying a laminating machine on Saturday and will probably buy a less expensive one for my classroom because we don't have one at school and after a long day at school, I am not driving to King of Prussia or going to Staples to get things laminated. We who are able to do the little extra things for our students, do what we can for them to help them along their journey on the educational road.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 21, 2011 10:15 am

You know what, you are crazy!!! If you signed a contract to work for 5 years with a salary of XXX amount of dollars and your employer decided to fire you, you would collect what is legally owed to you!!!! Give me a break! I am so sick of hearing that she shouldn't have taken what was rightfully owed to her, budget shortfall or not!!! This is the real world people, a contract is a contract and if you break it you have to pay.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 21, 2011 12:43 pm

Nothing was rightfully owed to her. She should have been fired for cause. What cause? Take your pick.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 21, 2011 12:37 pm

Suehappy or not cause was not raised!!! Philadelphia has had a horrible track record of keep a qualified Superintendent! I am not a backer/supporter but at some point you have to look at the Top and it started with the Mayor and the SRC!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 21, 2011 12:33 pm

Absolutely true that is started with SRC and Nutter.

However, the fact that the SRC was packed with idiots who had no business on a school board does not excuse Ackerman's negligence. She was not fired for cause because the drawn-out court proceedings she has proven she will create would have ended up costing more and further destabilizing the district.

I wonder when someone, anyone, might finally be held accountable.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 21, 2011 1:55 pm

I don't feel that anyone will be held accountable, which is sad! Philadelphia has always been known from its backroom politics and its pay to play deals and the School District is not exempt!!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 21, 2011 12:20 pm

The only reason she wasn't fired for cause is because she has proven herself to be so suehappy that the district decided it would be cheaper to pay her off and give her an outlandish and insane amount of money than fight her in court and end up coughing up the money anyway.

It may have been the SRC's fault that she was allowed to be a megalomaniacal nut who put money in the pockets of her friends instead of spending 5 minutes of her reign actually improving education. She gave up on most schools before she started, and PAs were nothing but a money sink. That is was she wasn't fired for cause.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 16, 2011 10:17 pm

Where are E Bussie and P Williams now? Remember they were crying racism? How many white people were in that closed door meeting? That was their only argument for trying to keep Ackerman. It was racial, not the fact that she is an incompetent leader. Isn't education supposed to be about the kids, not just a specific group of them?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 17, 2011 4:27 pm

PLEASE--stop with the race crap. This is about color though, GREEN. These crooks are stealing Public Education Money from poor kids and that's what the focus should be. The fact that most of these losers are black is inconsequential to those of us who have both oars in the water at the same time.

P.S. How many people still think Nutter is above the fray and not involved in all this ?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 20, 2011 12:42 pm

Wrong I am right here. RACISM IS ALWAYS EVIDENT IN ALL THINGS. Do we really know who the true players are? And the close door meeting is just a small part of the bigger picture. Follow the money. What is the percentage of minority contracts awarded by the school district in respect to those awarded to white male and white female companies or vendors? What population is effected the most in educational disparity? Find this out, the Center City schools which have a majority white or Jewish student body base receive approximately $6,459. per student while students that are predominantly Black or Latino receive approximately $1365.00 per student. Do you think this is racism? The most proportionately disadvantaged community in reference to education in Philadelphia is the Black community. And when a superintendent finally decides to change the educational process for those who have been most negatively effected they are osctricized and forced to quit without completing their vision of change. RACISM WAS ONLY PART OF THE PICTURE. The school district of Philadelphia has been graduating functionally illiterates for over 40 years and no one has ever really stepped up to change it. And when we hired a superintendent and challenged them to change the way we educated the Philadelphia school population she designed a plan and set out to implement that vision (Imagine 2014) she was marginalized, under-minded, threatened and eventually forced out. What is wrong in Philadelphia? There are 91 Low performing schools in Philadelphia County. Dr. Ackerman's Imagine 2014 set out to change these schools. All the money previously pumped into these schools when they were designated (Empowerment Schools) did not work in many of these schools. However, the record speaks for itself look at the numbers the proficiency numbers in the Imagine 2014 Renaissance Schools have made remarkable strides. Yet the SRC and other powers to be did not want to open the ones previously proposed yet they could find money to buyout a superintendent without cause. And lastly, how can we have an inept CFO at the helm of a $3 billion dollar budget operated business who has no formal training in finance, economics or other accounting related discipline. He does not hold an earned degree from an accredited university or college. Now please tell me how he is still CFO even after his ineptness was displayed during the budget hearing; could it be who he ultimately connected with. Mike Masch should have been long gone well before the others. If he is responsible for counting, disbursing and managing the districts funds, Why isn't he being held accountable. Think about it. What is more incompetent then this. And did the superintendent or SRC ever try to fire him? And if they did who prevented the firing?

Submitted by Brian "Good to be Green" Rudnick, Candidate (not verified) on September 17, 2011 7:46 am

The public is absolutely right to be disgusted with ALL of the players. I have taken my disgust up one level. I'm running for City Council for the 8th District, Green Party. And MLK is in my district. I had the opportunity to participate at the MLK Block Party before school began and to canvass with the MLK Alumni association the evening before to invite neighbors to the party and to encourage parents of high school age students and the students themselves to enroll in the Promise Academy Martin Luther King.

I am promising to do my best to deliver on the promises made to the students and parents at Martin Luther King high school. I am asking for your support in the November 8, 2011 election.

We have just brought on a team of young canvassers so please be kind to them when they approach you with literature on behalf of my candidacy.

And really, can we do any worse? The answer is YES. Just elect Nutter's and Evans' endorsed Democratic Party nominee and just see.

Brian "Good to Be Green" Rudnick
Candidate for Philadelphia 8th District Council
http://brianrudnick.com
4council@brianrudnick.com
267-536-9274

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 17, 2011 9:43 am

Interesting. I myself have always believed that there is more to the story than what the public has been told. I believed from the very beginning that someone had something on someone that is why Dr. A. was given so much money to leave/step down. I also believe that if the mayor wanted to do what is right, the investigative report on what happened with the King High School situation would have been released to the public by now.

The telling tales out of school will continue because the money has been paid and Dr. A. knew that it would be paid even when she didn't stop talking because she has something on someone or somebodies and what can be done now? Nothing, she has gotten her money.

Dr. A., don't withhold what you know, tell it all, drag down everyone that was/is involved as well as your own involvement in the situation, do it for the children, if you have your documentation and can prove what you are alledging, if you can't prove it, please enjoy your trip to New Mexico and stop talking.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 17, 2011 12:58 pm

Fox29 was told about the $20,000 tax lien filed against Dr. Ackerman by a PSD auditor who noticed her name on a list of tax liens when the auditor was reviewing the public list of liens to see if any school district employees with access to school district funds were subject to liens. [http://www.myfoxphilly.com/dpp/news/local_news/exclusive%3A-arlene-ackerman-owes-back-taxes-041211]
The auditor was told to regularly check the tax lien list as part of the audit function. The existence of a tax lien (or any other financial problem) against a school district employee with access to school district funds employee alerts the auditor to look more closely at that employee's handling of school district funds.
The school district has uncovered misappriation of funds by follwing such leads.
With regard to Dr. Ackerman, there was no indication that the tax lien led to any improriety on her part. Fox29 and/or other news organizations further investigated Ackerman and uncovered additional federal tax lien totalling over $100,000. [http://articles.philly.com/2011-04-14/news/29417808_1_federal-tax-liens-ackerman-tax-return]

Submitted by Bill Hangley (not verified) on September 17, 2011 1:05 pm

That may be true (and I'd love to talk to that auditor!) - but it doesn't mean that AA's statement isn't also true. The District, to my knowledge, doesn't regularly announce the names of employees who have tax liens or who are flagged in its regular financial reviews. How (and why) the information got from the auditor to Fox is a question that the mayor's investigator might be able to answer.

Among the possibilities: a) Ackerman isn't telling the truth, no one ever threatened or warned her, and she made the story up to take advantage of the fact that the Fox story broke around the time of the King controversy, or b) someone DID warn her, but never made good on it, and the emergence of the Fox story was entirely coincidental.

It's certainly not impossible that someone with an axe to grind with Ackerman that had nothing to do with King learned this information & leaked it.

Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on September 17, 2011 4:21 pm

Nice reporting job. The Notebook (and co-publications) are leading the investigative reporting on this whole snafu. It's obvious that the floodlight has to be kept on Nutter to force him to release this (damaging?) report which should lead to Archie's resignation. As for Arlene, I don't understand those who want her to shut up now. Let her talk. Her tales, self-serving as they are, point us to which rocks to look under.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 17, 2011 5:54 pm

Arlene had am choice to make--either let Mosaica have King or let Foundations have King. Mosaica is run by John Q. Porter who was chased out of Oklahoma City for misappropriating money and Evans and Archie as we all know, have been dirty forever. Tough Choice she had to make. These are disgusting people who all need to be shown the door-------to jail.

Submitted by ProPublicEducation (not verified) on September 17, 2011 7:55 pm

You don't think that Robert Archie gave her a secret contract extension right he worked to fire her wasn't to protect himself, do you. Ackerman and Archie (SRC chair) are a large part of what's wrong with public education in Philadelphia. These two are only a part of the education business community and politicians who support them who are the real profiteers, here. They make big money and head-lines SUPPOSEDLY for the good of children. It's really all about them.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 18, 2011 12:18 am

What qualifies Foundations to run Arise Academy?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 18, 2011 5:24 am

I don't see that Foundations has any qualifications to run any schools. Their hands have been in King and a few other schools around Germantown that are not even close to making AYP, even though Foundations has been their partner for many years. All they do is take the money and run.

Submitted by Anonymous55 (not verified) on September 18, 2011 2:52 pm

I think this needs to be put to a close and the rest of those involved fired, without a payout. As for Ackerman being threatened, who cares. I'm glad she got a taste of her own medicine! She created a culture of working in fear under threats of receiving memos, being 204'd, or losing your job which continues today by the bully principals and other administrators. Someone ought to investigate that.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 19, 2011 7:51 pm

Ackerman has done nothing but take away from this city in more ways than we may ever know. She has managed to place her people in "safe" positions to keep them from layoffs and filled a number of positions with doctoral students from the Harvard Urban Education program, as if there are not a number of highly qualified educators, post doctorate, in the SDP, who care about students and families in the city of Philadelphia.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 19, 2011 7:03 pm

Ackerman has done nothing but take away from this city in more ways than we may ever know. She has managed to place her people in "safe" positions to keep them from layoffs and filled a number of positions with doctoral students from the Harvard Urban Education program, as if there are not a number of highly qualified educators, post doctorate, in the SDP, who care about students and families in the city of Philadelphia.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 19, 2011 7:26 pm

Is Arlene in whistleblower jail? No she got fired like 2 procurement officers.What goes around comes around.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 20, 2011 9:01 am

Much as I love Arlene and the way she enlivened the district with her antics it is time to move on.

No one has solved the deficit she left us and we should be focused on that!

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

By using this service you agree not to post material that is obscene, harassing, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable. We reserve the right to delete or remove any material deemed to be in violation of this rule, and to ban anyone who violates this rule. Please see our "Terms of Usage" for more detail concerning your obligations as a user of this service. Reader comments are limited to 500 words. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

Follow Us On

Read the latest print issue

Philly Ed Feed

Recent Comments

Top

Public School Notebook

699 Ranstead St.
Third Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Phone: (215) 839-0082
Fax: (215) 238-2300
notebook@thenotebook.org

© Copyright 2013 The Philadelphia Public School Notebook. All Rights Reserved.
Terms of Usage and Privacy Policy