Oh, “Queen Arlene,” how you entertain us so. We at NewsWorks understand the difficulties of snagging an interview with the much sought-after, frequent headline-making superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia.
But Tribune reporter Dwight Ott says he had an experience of a whole ‘nother kind. The School District says otherwise.
Ott writes in today’s Inquirer, his former paper, of his quest to interview Ackerman and how efforts to reach her ended with two conversations with police and officers searching his computer.
Shana Kemp, who handles media relations for the district, says it was the police who sough out Ott after he called Ackerman’s home in search of an interview, and that Ott told the district he wouldn’t be paid by the Tribune without a quote from Ackerman.
Ott reports the phone call came after other attempts to speak with Ackerman, and was in response to possible vandalism of her home.
“At no time was Dwight Ott physically touched,” Kemp said of Ott’s account that a district spokeswoman removed him from Ackerman’s reaches as he tried to ask questions at a December meeting. Kemp says that meeting was taped, and the film shows no evidence of Ott’s claim.
“The majority of the stuff he put in the article was ridiculous,” Kemp said, noting she has no intentions of reaching out to him given the negative history.
“We really want to be done with this,” she said. “It’s unfortunate to be dealing with this when we have so many other things we need to be focusing on.”
This report has been updated to include the response from the School District of Philadelphia.