This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
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A new film released by the Philadelphia Student Union clearly shows School Reform Commissioner Sylvia Simms yelling over loudly chanting students that they were "probably in failing schools."
The altercation occured on Oct. 15, as more than a dozen students interrupted a screening of the pro-school-choice film Won’t Back Down that Simms had been hosting at District headquarters by sitting down at the front and forcefully chanting "save our schools," "Philly is a union town" and "the SRC has got to go."
Students and PSU organizers at the time contended that Simms made that statement, but video evidence available at the time couldn’t confirm it, as the sound of the students’ chants drowned out the commissioner’s voice.
In an interview the day after the film screening, Simms denied the accusation.