It's official: Tony Danza will teach English at Northeast High this year.
In a 3-1 vote yesterday, the School Reform Commission approved the filming of Teach, an A&E reality show in which the actor will co-teach a sophomore class at one of the district's largest schools. He will work alongside a certified teacher, the district said, and cameras will not be visible to students in the classroom.
His students are now being selected, said district spokesman Fernando Gallard. Those pupils chosen to come in for auditions attend a Northeast program for students who want to be in the entertainment industry.
"The parents and the students have to agree to be part of it, and part of that is understanding what the demands are going to be," said Gallard.
Commissioner Heidi Ramirez, who resigned her seat yesterday, was the only no vote. She said she thought the show was a "potential distraction" to students.
The actor, who holds a bachelor's degree in history education from the University of Dubuque, will also help out with extracurricular activities, particularly a sports team and drama.
In a statement, Danza said he was "humbled, honored and so grateful that the City of Philadelphia has decided to let us try this. I have always wanted to teach, so this is a gift for me. I will work hard to make sure I don't let anyone down, especially the kids."
Superintendent Arlene Ackerman welcomed Danza, and said that the show would portray honestly "the joys and challenges of a first-year teacher."
Mayor Nutter orchestrated the deal. Danza first approached him about teaching in Philadelphia, Ackerman said, and Nutter urged the district to sign on.
"As a product of urban public schools, Mr. Danza is dedicated to enriching the lives of the young people who will enter his classroom," Nutter wrote in a letter to the commission last week.
The district will accept a $3,500 per-episode fee from A&E, which will also reimburse facilities and personnel expenses and payment of the district's outside legal fees.
District officials will have the right to object to footage after it views a "rough cut" of each episode, and can end the series at any time, commission chair Robert L. Archie Jr. said.
The commission also voted on 75 expulsions yesterday. Some parents and advocates who spoke on behalf of students said the district must improve its expulsion process, which officials said they were fixing with increased staff.
Judy Hoskins-Reed, whose stepdaughter was temporarily expelled, said the district must work on communications.
"All the documentation that was sent by the district was inaccurate and not up-to-date," Hoskins-Reed said. "None of it made sense."