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Major shakeup on SRC

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


UPDATED: 10:30 p.m. Statement from Acting Superintendent Leroy Nunery, II

School Reform Commission Chairman Robert Archie and Commissioner Johnny Irizarry have both resigned, effectively immediately.

News of Archie’s resignation came Monday morning in an email statement from his public relations firm.

"I have determined that I should conclude my service on the School Reform Commission," read Archie’s statement. "The Mayor should have the opportunity to carry out his educational programs and objectives with a new group of appointees."

Monday afternoon, Mayor Michael Nutter’s office released a statement saying that Irizarry, too, had stepped down.

“I very much appreciate the service of Bob Archie and Johnny Irizarry through very difficult and challenging times,” said Nutter. “During their watch, students continued to show improved test scores and the graduation rate has improved.”

The statement says only that new appointees will be announced "very shortly." A mayoral spokesperson would provide no further detail.

Both Archie and Irizarry were nominated by Mayor Nutter to join the SRC in 2009. Archie was made chairman by former-governor Ed Rendell.

The shakeup leaves the SRC down to two current members, Joseph Dworetzky and Denise McGregor Armbrister. Both were appointed by Rendell. Dworetzky currently lives in San Francisco.

Gov. Tom Corbett has nominated lawyer and former school board president Pedro Ramos to a seat on the SRC. Confirmation of the appointment is expected in October, although a spokesperson for state Sen. Dominic Pileggi said that timetable could be sped up as a result of today’s news.

"We’re aware of the resignations, and [they] may affect the timing of the…hearing," said Erik Arneson.

Archie’s resignation comes amid a growing chorus of calls for Nutter to release a long-delayed report into the controversy over awarding a charter contract for King High School. Archie has acknowledged participating in a private, closed-door meeting about the school’s future despite having publicly recused from the matter due to a self-declared conflict of interest.

Mark McDonald, the press secretary to Mayor Nutter, said that the report would be coming "shortly."

A spokesperson for Archie had no comment as to whether the mayoral investigation played any role into Archie’s decision to step down.

"The statement is going to speak for itself. Nothing further to add," said Thomas Gailey.

Gailey also said that Archie does not currently have any plans to publicly discuss his tenure on the SRC, but said he "may" do so in the future.

Here is the full text of Archie’s statement:

September 19, 2011

Statement of Robert L. Archie Jr. On

Resignation from School Reform Commission

Over the last several months, I have had multiple conversations with Mayor Michael Nutter and members of his Administration on issues related to the School District of Philadelphia. Indeed, during my entire tenure, I have tried to work closely and collaboratively with the Mayor and his staff in achieving the best educational program for the children of the Philadelphia Public Schools.

The Mayor and I have also had recent conversations involving the future management structure of the public school system.

Upon being chosen to serve on the School Reform Commission, my goal was to work for the children and families of Philadelphia for two years. I have served as Commissioner and Chairman for almost two and one half years. Now that schools have opened successfully, a budget has been adopted for the fiscal year and an acting superintendent has been appointed, I have determined that I should conclude my service on the School Reform Commission. The Mayor should have the opportunity to carry out his educational programs and objectives with a new group of appointees to the Commission. Accordingly, I am resigning as Chairman and as a member of the School Reform Commission, a very distinguished and hard working-body of volunteers, effective immediately.

When I was appointed to this position, I took the oath with my family and friends standing beside me. As a lifetime resident of Philadelphia and a graduate of the Philadelphia public school system, I have been committed to Philadelphia and its schools since the early fifties, first as an honor roll student, then as a substitute teacher and periodically as the school district’s co-bond counsel.

When asked by the Mayor and Governor Rendell to serve, I happily volunteered my service to the School Reform Commission hoping that my service would promote educational opportunities for all the children in the School District of Philadelphia. I am glad that I was able to do so. There have been many obstacles, not the least of which involves the budgetary issues facing the School District this fiscal year and next. During my tenure, my fellow Commissioners and I have provided, to the best of our ability, certain solutions to the many challenges facing the School District. I am also extremely proud of our many achievements, including the creation of the Imagine 2014 strategic plan, the integration of traditional public schools with charter programs, the progressive teacher contracts, and the revised expulsion process. I am satisfied that I have given the best service of which I am capable to the citizens of Philadelphia. At all times, I have acted in their sole interest and it has been a privilege and an honor to do so.

I wish Mayor Nutter, Acting Superintendent Nunery, the public school system staff and the School Reform Commission every success as they continue to serve the children of the district.

###

Contact: Thomas Gailey, GaileyMurray Communications

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