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Top Philadelphia academic official found to also work for Ohio district

Departed deputy chief Tracy Ocasio played key role developing curriculum for digital learning during pandemic

Columbus, Ohio, officials placed Ocasio on leave Wednesday night.
Universal Images Group via Getty

A top academic official for the Philadelphia School District has left her position following revelations that she simultaneously held a similar job at a school district in Columbus, Ohio.

District spokeswoman Monica Lewis confirmed Wednesday that Deputy Chief of Curriculum and Instruction Tracy Ocasio’s last day was Aug. 18, though she wouldn’t offer an explanation for the sudden departure.

But on Wednesday evening, school officials in Columbus, Ohio, placed Ocasio on “administrative leave” from Columbus City Schools, according to the Columbus Dispatch, which reported she worked there for more than a year.

“We have not received a resignation letter at the current time,” Columbus City Schools spokesman Scott Wortman told the Dispatch. “All I can say is we are reviewing the situation, and that she is currently on paid administrative leave.”

Tracy Ocasio
Columbus School District

Ocasio has not responded to requests for comment from Chalkbeat.

Lewis said Ocasio has worked for the Philadelphia School District for several months and played a significant role developing curriculum for the district’s new digital learning plan to be used amid coronavirus-related school closures. She worked for the Office of Academic Supports, reporting to Dr. Malika Savoy-Brooks. She has a 29-year career working in numerous school districts, including a past stint in Philadelphia.

Superintendent William Hite said Thursday that Ocasio played a “significant” role in creating the digital learning plan that the district developed for use this fall, drawing on lessons from the spring. “She had some real expertise in the area,” he said.

While Hite said that many people hold more than one job, leadership jobs with two different school districts is “impossible and quite frankly should never be allowed.” He said he did not interview her himself, but that “absolutely everything was checked out....I cannot say what happened in this situation.”

Ocasio’s arrangement came to light after she was quoted as a school official in news reports in both Ohio and Philadelphia, just a day apart. On Aug. 15, she was quoted in a Columbus Dispatch story as the district’s “Chief Academic Officer,” discussing academic assessments for returning students. “We’ll build bridges wherever there are learning gaps,” she told the Dispatch.

The next day, Ocasio was quoted in a KYW NewsRadio story as Philadelphia’s “deputy director of curriculum and instruction,” speaking to parents about kindergarten plans at a Facebook Live session.

“We have developed a plan where they will spend approximately two hours or less in the beginning on the screen,” Ocasio told KYW.

A 1991 graduate of Alvernia University, Ocasio’s online resume shows a range of education and academic positions in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., including as an assistant superintendent in Philadelphia from 2008-2013. In 2013, she launched a curriculum development firm called Educational Promise Solutions, LLC.

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