Philadelphia City Council sends school board choice back to mayor, who appoints her anyway

Joyce Wilkerson, considered a controversial pick over her stance on charter schools, was praised by Mayor Parker as a “laudable steward.”

Joyce Wilkerson

Former Philadelphia school board head Joyce Wilkerson speaks in 2018. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

From Philly and the Pa. suburbs to South Jersey and Delaware, what would you like WHYY News to cover? Let us know!

City Council President Kenyatta Johnson got the votes to rescind the resolution to approve Joyce Wilkerson as a member of Philadelphia’s school board. Still, Mayor Cherelle Parker kept her in the job anyway.

Wilkerson was formerly chief of staff to Mayor John Street and head of the school board, but her stance on charter schools held her Council approval. She had been criticized for her stance, which upset several Council members.

“After discussions with [the] Council leadership team and individual members, it’s very clear that the members do not have the necessary non-votes of Council members for confirmation to the school board,” Johnson said. “The Council leadership team [has] also come to the consensus that despite the flurry of phone calls, emails and other communications with customers about Ms. Wilkinson’s nomination, I do not see the nomination getting the votes of nine members either today or the immediate future.”

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

But within minutes of the decision, the mayor’s office issued a statement that since no one had been confirmed to replace Wilkerson, she has been asked to continue her service “until someone is appointed to replace her.”

The move allows Parker to leave Wilkerson in the job indefinitely, without approval from City Council.

The statement from the mayor’s office included parts of a letter sent to Wilkerson, which read, “Throughout your tenure, you have been a laudable steward of this responsibility. Now I would like you to continue that service.”

The statement went on to say the nine individuals, eight of which were approved by Council, “are among the best and brightest the city has to offer” and represent the kind of “diversity, civic-mindedness and passion for public service that I see every day in building the Parker administration.”

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

The mayor ended her statement by saying, “The board members know their responsibilities and their duties. Now it’s time to get to work.”

The new and reappointed members take over May 1.

Get the WHYY app!

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal