Philadelphia school board member Maria McColgan resigns

The board is now looking to fill two vacancies, as a new superintendent prepares to take the helm.

File photo: Philadelphia school board member Maria McColgan hears from community members during a listening session at Dobbins High School. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

File photo: Philadelphia school board member Maria McColgan hears from community members during a listening session at Dobbins High School. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Philadelphia Board of Education member Maria McColgan is resigning, effective May 6.

McColgan was one of the original nine board members Mayor Jim Kenney appointed to the school board in 2018, as the district shifted back to local control after 16 years under the state-appointed School Reform Commission.

“It has truly been an honor to serve the city of Philadelphia, the School District, and most importantly the students and teachers,” McColgan said in a statement Thursday. “Over the past four years, we have worked hard to focus on improving student achievement. While much work remains to be done, I feel optimistic about the direction that we are heading.”

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Neither McColgan nor board president Joyce Wilkerson provided a reason for the resignation in their announcement.

“The Board greatly appreciates Dr. McColgan’s insights and contributions to the Board of Education, especially her leadership as Chair of the Policy Committee and her work on streamlining critical policies in support of our Goals & Guardrails,” Wilkerson said in a statement.

McColgan’s departure leaves the school board with two vacancies. Angela McIver, another early appointee, resigned almost a year ago and hasn’t yet been replaced.

The mayor’s nominating panel convened last week for the first time since December 2020, and is currently accepting applications for new members. The panel extended its application deadline from April 22 to April 29 on the heels of McColgan’s resignation.

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“We are looking for dedicated, effective leaders to be champions for our city’s schools and student success,” Kenney said in a statement.

The 12-member nominating panel is tasked with vetting and interviewing candidates, then presenting their top choices to Kenney. Ultimately, City Council must approve his final picks.

McColgan, a child abuse pediatrician and former public school teacher, is the parent of two charter school students. During the pandemic, she was the lone vote against starting the 2020-2021 school year virtually, arguing that the extended closure of school buildings was “causing more harm than the disease.”

When McColgan steps down, four of the original board members appointed in 2018 will remain: Wilkerson, Mallory Fix Lopez, Leticia Egea-Hinton, and Julia Danzy.

The two new board members will take their seats as Philadelphia welcomes its first new superintendent in a decade. Tony Watlington, a district leader from North Carolina, takes charge of Philadelphia public schools on June 16.

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