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District establishes advisory council, is seeking volunteer members

The Board of Education earlier this month appointed its own advisory council, which is mandated by the Home Rule Charter.

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

The School District’s Office of Family and Community Engagement is seeking members for an advisory council so that the District can “include parent/guardian perspectives and recommendations” in its decision-making process.

The District Advisory Council (DAC) is an outgrowth of the School Advisory Councils that have been established in each school over the last two years, said Jenna Monley, director of the Office of Family and Community Engagement (FACE).

Formation of this group comes in the same month that the Board of Education announced the members of its own advisory group, the existence of which is required by the city’s Home Rule Charter.

“The DAC has always been a part of the big picture, our vision as we re-imagine family engagement work,” said Monley.

She said this represents a “culture shift” within the central office.

“Gone are days where we as administrators are sitting in rooms wondering what parents need to be beneficial to students,” she said. “This is an opportunity to give them a seat at the table in a more formalized way.”

The DAC members, she said, will “serve as our boots on the ground.” They will engage with peers and people in their schools and neighborhoods, she said, “and bring back [ideas] to the District to help influence decision-making.”

The group needs 32 members, two from each of the District’s 16 learning networks. To apply, a candidate must be a parent, family member, or caretaker of a student currently enrolled in a District school.

Prospective members must also be actively involved in an existing parent group or “demonstrate commitment to supporting” a District school, Monley said.

The DAC will meet every other month during the school year, and members will serve for two years. More details are available here.

The deadline for applications is April 10 at 4:30 p.m.

The Board of Education earlier this month announced the members of its Parent and Community Advisory Council, which is mandated under the city’s Home Rule Charter. That body is required to meet with school board members twice a year.

“They are our eyes and ears in the community,” said school board member Julia Danzy. She said that board members feel that people are more likely to be honest with members of such a panel than with board members themselves.

“They may not be as open and honest with us as [they would be] with someone in their own community,” she said. “It’s a two-way street, to bring to the community things that we’re trying to do, and to bring back from the community their perceptions, and whether or not their assessment aligns with what we say we are doing.”

Although the group is mandated, Danzy said it is something the board wanted to do.

The members of the board’s Parent and Community Advisory Council serve for one year. The 13 members for the 2019-20 school year are Catherine Blunt, Tonayia Coffer, Shereda Cromwell, Maritza Guridy, Amina Malik, Ginny McGill, Tony Rocco, Marisa Shaaban, Joellene Sicinski, Ty Thomas, Cecelia Thompson, Bishop Ethan Thorton, and the Rev. Chandra Williams.

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