Split voting results at Steel Elementary bring on the spin cycle

The results are in from an unusual election in Philadelphia’s Nicetown section.   

Parents at Steel Elementary School voted Thursday on whether the school should remain under current leadership or be turned over to Mastery Charter Schools.

Out of 800 eligible voters, 176 parents cast ballots. They chose to keep existing leadership by a margin of 121 to 55.

But in the second facet of voting, where only approved members of the School Advisory Council were allowed to weigh in, the results tilted in Mastery’s favor 9 to 8.

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In the absence of decisive recommendation, both sides declared victory.

Mastery’s release turned a blind eye to the popular vote:

“Yesterday the Steel Elementary School’s Advisory Council (SAC) voted to partner with Mastery to become a Renaissance Charter School this fall. We are thankful and humbled  that the school’s leaders, who visited Mastery schools and had the opportunity to carefully consider all options, decided that Mastery is  the best choice for the Steel community. The Renaissance process was not perfect and we recognize that parents faced a great deal of adult noise and distractions in making their decision. This process revealed the passionate desire of Steel parents for a better education for their children. It is our hope that in the coming weeks, the school community can come back together, dedicated to that goal.”

Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, sent a response completely ignoring the SAC vote:

“Congratulations to the parents at Steel Elementary School for overwhelmingly uniting behind the idea that our neighborhood schools deserve to be supported, not written off and given away to the highest bidder. Now that the parents have spoken, it is incumbent on Superintendent Hite and the School Reform Commission to honor their desire for Steel to remain a traditional public school.”

Neither the popular vote nor the SAC vote are binding. Based on each, the Philadelphia School District will make a recommendation to the School Reform Commission. The SRC will vote on the matter at a meeting scheduled for May 29th.

Parents at the other school up for Renaissance charter conversion, Luis Muñoz-Marín, had their vote postponed until June 5th.

grievence has been filed with the school district over which parents were eligibile to vote as members of the School Advisory Council. Another complaint charged the district’s charter office with “unethical behavior.”

“The District is currently reviewing the grievance and complaint and will formally reply to the individuals that filed the complaint and grievance,” its official release said.

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