State Rep. W. Curtis Thomas: Sale of William Penn is Illegal - OUR CHILDREN'S EDUCATION ON THE AUCTION BLOCK IN PHILADELPHIA, PA

-->By Gloria Dulan-Wilson
Hello All: 

The following press release was sent to me from the office of Pennsylvania State Representative W. Curtis Thomas - and is a problem that appears to be rife throughout Philadelphia - as a subsequent consequence of closing down 29 key schools in areas where they were sorely needed, under the guise of budgetary constraints.  

Rep. W. Curtis Thomas

 The so called SRC  -School Reform Commission - which is a loosely formed  school quality review committee - though it is dubious as to whether they would know quality if it walked in on two legs and sat down beside them - has closed down the schools in 2013, leaving several communities without essential neighborhood schools, and requiring many students to be bused across several communities in order to continue their education.  

Since their inception in 2001, to replace the school board,  their so called reforms have resulted in lower performing schools, increased confusion among faculty, staff, administration, as well as students and their parents - practically the entire community of Philadelphia.  There are five members on the SRC Commission - three appointed by Gov. Corbett (a Republican) and two by Mayor Nutter (Democrat).  Corbett's appointees serve for 5 years; Nutter's appointees serve for 4 years.  The unfortunate truth about the entire lot of them is that the educational future of Philadelphia is tied up in the hands of apparently incompetent people. Additionally, it's rather disingenuous to place the future of an entire city's educational system in the hands of people who apparently have no real interest in, or understanding of, the needs of the community. 

What has followed has been a major land grab of the remaining physical assets, and an attempt to sell off the schools to private developers, without regard to many legal requirements that should be adhered to, and blatant disregard for the communities who never wanted the schools to be closed in the first place.  Additionally, what is to be the distribution of those funds, once the properties are sold? 

This kind of chicanery is no doubt being played out in cities throughout the US, especially in predominantly Black neighborhoods, where moves are being made to render them null and void; marginal and expendable.    This indicates that we need to be banding together within our communities, but across the nation, to assist each other in these challenges, and outright assaults on our communities by forces whose only interests are that we no longer are viable or empowered to determine our own destinities.  The very educational lives of our children are at stake here.  

Mayor Michael Nutter, in a speech given before the OIC (Opportunities Industrialization Center) stated that "what is happening {in Pennsylvania} to the education of our children is a crime and an embarrassment, and must not continue ..."

  Well this appears to be the case in this situation.  Along with a heaping dose of egregious greed, and a blatant and total disregard for the needs of the community they purport to serve.

 Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere
ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

Now that you know, what are you going to do?  

Stay Blessed & 
Gloria Dulan-Wilson 
{NOTE: Of course you know that the color and bolding are my emphasis of the Rep. Curtis' statements}

William Penn High School, Philadelphia PA

State Rep. W. Curtis Thomas:
Sale of William Penn is Illegal
June 24, 2014

I am increasingly angered by the blatant disregard of the interests and wishes of the residents of the communities East of Broad Street regarding the closing and illegal sale of William Penn High School to Temple University. In 2001, Mayor John Street and Governor Mark Schweiker reached an agreement that transferred control of the School District of Philadelphia to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. According to the law that established the SRC, the governor appoints three of the SRC members, while the mayor of appoints two members of the commission. 
Four years ago, the SRC concluded that there was a need to keep William Penn High School open, but would have to close the school temporarily to address capital needs. The consensus was that it would reopen in 2014 as a career technical school. Members of the William Penn Development Coalition have met consistently with School District Superintendent William Hite who assured them as recently as May, that William Penn was not on the disposition list of schools to be sold. To my knowledge, there has been no formal resolution to reverse that decision or to turn the property over to the city. That’s why it’s troubling to me that on June 12, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation contacted the William Penn Coalition, and told them to put $15 million on the table by June 13 or their proposal would be dismissed. That is unheard of and illegal, especially since Temple University was the only other party interested in acquiring the William Penn property. Although the coalition submitted their proposal for the reopening of the school as an educational center and building trades program in a timely manner, the fix was obviously in for Temple to win the bid. 
First of all, PIDC and the city have no legal right to sell property that doesn’t belong to them. State control of the school district also includes their property. The SRC must comply with the PA Public School Code in all matters pertaining to the school district. The PA School Code requires that hearings be held to allow a period of public comment before a school is closed and sold. That was never done.

Second, there was no official notice of a marketable appraisal of the William Penn property. Third, there is a conflict of interest when you have a Temple University official sitting on the Board of PIDC.
At what point does the interest of the students and the community come first? Once again, I am opposed to the marketing and sale of schools to entities that are not operating in the interest of the community
There are 650 homeowners and 500 seniors that reside within blocks William Penn. Have they been consulted about Temple’s plan to establish athletic fields and recreation space for Temple students? No! These are hardworking people who pay taxes to support higher education, pay additional sales tax and will pay an additional cigarette tax to support public education. Shouldn’t they have a say so? Has Temple president Neil D. Theobald met with the state legislators that represent Temple – a state-related university that receives funding from the commonwealth? He hasn’t met with me or the community even though they contribute to his salary.

According to the PA Public School Code, 2PACS, Chapter 5, Subsection N, the secretary of education upon receipt from the majority of the SRC, may issue a declaration of dissolution 180 days prior to the end of the school year, which shall be effective by the end of that school year. 

While it is too late to dissolve the SRC before September, it can be dissolved during the next school year. To that end, I am saying to members of the SRC, if you are not prepared to comply with the PA Public School Code, the PA Independent Regulatory Review Commission, the PA Department of Education and the Governors’ Budget Office, then you need to dissolve the SRC.
Our children’s education should not be sold on the auction block for selfish interests to developers and those who don’t respect or care about the needs of the community. This sale was hostile, illegal, arrogant and disrespectful. This transaction must be reversed.

State Rep. W. Curtis Thomas

Pennsylvania State Representative W. Curtis Thomas represents the 181st Legislative District that includes William Penn High School and Temple University.

Contact: Marilyn Kai Jewett

Again, I ask:

Stay Blessed & 
Gloria Dulan-Wilson


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