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School Reform Commission will have new faces this fall

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

District schools will be governed this year by a group of School Reform Commissioners that is almost entirely different from a year ago.

The summer was marked by the surprising resignation of Heidi Ramirez just months after she had been renominated by Gov. Rendell to a full term on the five-member body. In her place, Rendell – in consultation with Republican Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi – appointed Republican attorney and former ambassador to Austria David Girard-diCarlo.

The other new member of the board is slated to be attorney Joseph Dworetzky, also named by Rendell in March. Neither had been confirmed by the state Senate as of mid-September.

Mayor Nutter made two March appointments: Johnny Irizarry and Robert Archie. They took their seats immediately, joining Denise Armbrister, appointed in 2007. With Ramirez’s departure, none of the members will be professional educators.

At Girard-diCarlo’s hearing before the Senate Education Committee on Sept. 18, he said that his first responsibility was “to learn…. There is an awful lot I do not know [about the District].” He said he planned to ask hard questions. “I have never been a rubber stamp and I don’t think I will ever be a rubber stamp,” he told the senators.

Unlike her colleagues, Ramirez frequently asked questions at public SRC meetings. She announced her resignation after some open disagreements with Superintendent Arlene Ackerman.

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