Despite pleas from members of West Philadelphia High's Renaissance School Advisory Council that Johns Hopkins be approved to manage the school in September, Superintendent Arlene C. Ackerman said yesterday that "it's too late" for that.
The advisory council also blasted School Reform Commission chairman Robert Archie Jr. for delaying a vote on approving Johns Hopkins/Diplomas Now at the May 26 commission meeting, after saying concerns of a "conflict of interest" had been brought to him.
In a news release, the advisory council criticized Archie for stating that he "can't remember" who told him "certain facts" that led him to delay the vote.
Parent members of the advisory council said yesterday they were "humiliated" by allegations that there was a conflict of interest because some parents had been paid for previous community-outreach work by a group connected to Johns Hopkins.
"I am insulted," parent Carla Jackson told the SRC before announcing that she and her husband, Keith Jackson, are resigning from the council.
She said she wasn't aware that West would be named a Renaissance school when she became an outreach coordinator for the Philadelphia Education Fundand that she didn't even vote for Johns Hopkins. Rather, she voted to have the district operate West Philly High as a Promise Academy next year.
The district said four parents on the council - the majority of which voted for Johns Hopkins - also had been paid as community- outreach workers by the Philadelphia Education Fund. The group was to work as a subcontractor with Johns Hopkins, if it ran the school.
A review by the Education Law Center, a legal-advocacy organization for parents and children, concluded that the parents had been paid $8 an hour, which came to about $300 to $400 each, but the situation didn't rise to the level of a conflict of interest.
At a news conference yesterday, the advisory council called on the district to end its plan to delay turning West Philadelphia into a Renaissance school until the 2011-2012 school year.
"The district is stalling for time," a group statement said. "The district's investigation of the conflict of interest is moving at a snail's pace, while members of our Council are left to twist in the wind."
Added Joy Herbert, co-chair of the advisory council, "The [advisory council] has no other motivation than to see the school improve and all members welcomed the opportunity to work with a provider that would enable the school to continue to make progress.
"By delaying this vote, the SRC is putting this progress in further jeopardy."
According to a letter from the Education Law Center, "the conflict-of-interest statute does not apply to [school advisory council] members. . . . Even if the statute did apply, there would be no violation here."
Last week, both Ackerman and Archie said they wanted the district's inspector general to review whether there was a conflict of interest.
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