Philly parents split vote on school control
Parents and guardians at Steel Elementary split a vote Thursday on whether the school should remain under district control or be run by a charter operator, with some parents yelling foul at the process.
Parents and guardians at a North Philadelphia school split a vote Thursday on whether the school should remain under district control or be run by a charter operator, with some parents yelling foul at the process.
In a vote of parents and guardians, parents at Steel Elementary voted overwhelmingly in favor of district control, 121-55, the district announced. In a separate vote by the School Advisory Council, parents voted in favor of control by Mastery Charter Schools as part of the Renaissance Charter Initiative by a margin of 9-8.
The district said it will use the results "to guide its recommendation" to the School Reform Commission, which is tentatively scheduled to make a final decision May 29.
The district said it is also currently reviewing a grievance filed by parents Friday morning regarding the SAC vote and will formally respond to the individuals who filed the complaint. The grievance claims that about 80 percent of parents who applied to participate in the SAC vote were disqualified the day of the vote, according to Kendra Brooks, one of the parents who filed the complaint.
After learning the results of the vote, Brooks said she was "overwhelmingly excited that the community had [rallied] around the school." She declined further comment until the grievance process is completed.
Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, said the vote sent a message to the SRC, district and the city that parents still believe in neighborhood public schools.
"Congratulations to the parents at Steel Elementary School for overwhelmingly uniting behind the idea that our neighborhood schools deserve to be supported, not written off and given away to the highest bidder," Jordan said in a statement. "Now that the parents have spoken, it is incumbent on Superintendent Hite and the School Reform Commission to honor their desire for Steel to remain a traditional public school."
A total of 176 guardians voted out of approximately 800 who were eligible, the district said. The League of Women Voters of Philadelphia served as an independent monitor for the general parent vote.