Education advocates and government watchdogs in Philadelphia are calling for answers. Yesterday’s report from the Mayor’s Chief Integrity Officer alleges strong-arm political tactics in the contest to run Martin Luther King High School. The watchdogs don’t want the report to be the story’s final chapter.
Committee of Seventy President Zack Stalberg said Philadelphia’s Chief Integrity Officer did a good job on the report, but the State Attorney General or Philadelphia District Attorney should investigate.”There’s possible violations of the state ethics code and city laws and from our standpoint it needs probably a combined city-state investigation,” said Stalberg. “It seems as if State Representative Dwight Evans is squarely in the middle of this and neither he nor his aide nor a close friend will talk, so without subpoena power you can’t find out what his role really was.”Stalberg said the report raises another concern about Mayor Michael Nutter.”The Mayor himself is no hero in this episode, the report was commissioned around Eastertime,” said Stalberg. “He apparently got it several weeks ago, he let SRC Chairman Bob Archie resign quietly, he praised him a few days ago when he resigned, and then he finally releases the report.”Archie called parts of the report “pure fiction” and Representative Evans disputed that he pulled political strings.Martin Luther King High School nurse Wanda Lassiter said the report was long overdue and she’s glad it seems to be well-researched. Lassiter was part of a School Advisory Council that recommended which private operator should run MLK.”I’m hoping this will not be the end of the investigation: that somebody actually delves into it,” said Lassiter. “We worked hard as a School Advisory Council to basically just open up the can. Now we need somebody like the feds or somebody from some court to look into what’s actually in that can.”Lassiter said students lost out.”Because of all this political wrangling our children were being robbed of a decent education and I feel as yes, this shouldn’t be over. Somebody’s head should roll,” she said.Seventy’s Zack Stalberg said there need to be consequences for the ethical lapses detailed in the report.