This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Response to May 5 blog post, “As promised, SRC resolutions posted far ahead of meeting,” by the Notebook.
Posting School Reform Commission resolutions well in advance of meetings is a step in the right direction. But it is still far from satisfying the letter and the intent of the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act.
That is obvious to all of us who regularly attend SRC meetings and study what is going on.
The Sunshine Act requires public deliberations of the SRC, and that, quite frankly, never happens. Sometimes it’s obvious that SRC members do not understand the resolutions which they are voting on.
It is reasonable to ask questions about the reasons and rationales for SRC resolutions and have them answered in an open and honest manner, and that is required by the Sunshine Act. The Sunshine Act embodies fundamental requirements of public governance and due process rights of citizens and school community members to participate meaningfully in the governance of our public schools.
I recommend that the SRC return to having planning meetings and action meetings. I also recommend that the planning meetings include the proposed resolutions and a discussion segment to allow citizens to ask questions about the resolutions and then make their public comments in a fully informed manner.
As a 21st-century community, we should stop trampling on the rights of the people and start embracing them. Thanks to SRC Chair Marjorie Neff for leadership in the right direction.
The writer is a retired School District administrator, an attorney, and author of Whose School Is It? The Democratic Imperative for Our Schools.