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Pritchett resigns from SRC; Nutter names retired principal Neff to replace him

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

The School Reform Commission has a new member, Marjorie Neff, a longtime District principal who just retired from her post at the Masterman School. Mayor Nutter named her Friday to the SRC to replace Wendell Pritchett, who has served as a mayoral appointee since September 2011.

Pritchett, whose term runs until January 2017, submitted his resignation today. He recently returned to the University of Pennsylvania law school as a professor and interim dean after serving as chancellor of Rutgers University – Camden.

Marjorie Neff (center) participated in a District press conference in June where Superintendent William Hite called for more funding. Neff, a parent of two Philadelphia public school graduates who lives in Mount Airy, spent 38 years in the District, nine of them as the principal of Powel Elementary and eight years at Masterman.

Neff is the first current or former School District educator to serve on the SRC in the 12-year history of that body. As a principal, she was outspoken in addressing inadequate funding in the School District.

In a statement, Nutter cited Neff’s "experience and knowledge as a School District administrator, teacher and parent."

Thanking the mayor for appointing her, Neff said, "I promise to carry out my duties and responsibilities as honestly and diligently as possible on behalf of the students, parents and teachers who have enriched my life for so many years. They deserve better than what they’re facing today. I can only say I will do my best.”

In his resignation letter, Pritchett described his time at the District as "difficult." He wrote, "The primary job of the members of the SRC has been to consider a set of options, all bad, and to attempt to figure out which one of these options would cause the least damage to students in the city of Philadelphia."

SRC Chairman Bill Green, in a statement from the District about Pritchett’s resignation, said, "I came to rely on Wendell’s judgment, clarity of thought and pure decency. He is a wonderful man and was a great commissioner."

The SRC’s next scheduled meeting is not until August 21.

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