This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
by Bill Hangley, Jr.
This piece was published by NewsWorks Friday, March 18.
When John Henderson of Foundations Inc. walks into Martin Luther King High today, he knows he’ll meet some angry people. His message: don’t blame us.
“[People] have to entertain the notion that Mosaica withdrew,” said Henderson, Foundations’ chief spokesperson. “That put us all in the situation that I don’t think any of us were prepared for.”
Foundations is the nonprofit organization that has managed King, a neighborhood high school of about 1,000 students, since 2003. Wednesday, it appeared to have lost that job for good after the School Reform Commission (SRC) voted to hand King over to a competing charter operator, Mosaica Education, as part of the District’s Renaissance school turnaround program.
The SRC’s decision followed weeks of work by King’s volunteer School Advisory Council (SAC), which endorsed Mosaica over Foundations by an 8-1 vote.
But not 24 hours after Mosaica officially won the job, District officials made a surprise announcement: Mosaica was giving up King, saying it wanted to focus its energy on another school it was awarded, Birney Elementary.
It soon emerged that the moving force behind the decision was Rep. Dwight Evans, who responded to Mosaica’s apparent victory by lobbying hard on behalf of Foundations, his longtime partner in Northwest education projects. With Evans as an ally, Foundations has grown deep roots in the Northwest, running after-school programs and providing services to charter schools. Its executives have raised thousands of dollars in campaign funds for Evans over the years. Foundations considers King its “flagship” school.
This story continues on the NewsWorks website; it is a product of a reporting collaboration between the Notebook and WHYY.