By Marc Levy
HARRISBURG, Pa. –Gov. Tom Corbett said Wednesday he has agreed to release $45 million for the Philadelphia schools that his administration had held up as
the state’s largest school district goes through its worst financial crisis in memory and questions swirl about a girl’s apparently asthma-related death
after attending a school without a nurse on site.
Corbett made the announcement at an unrelated news conference in his Capitol offices. He did not take questions afterward. However, he said his decision
came a day after a letter from the Philadelphia school superintendent, William Hite, convinced him that district officials had made enough progress toward
the governor’s educational and financial goals for improvements in the 134,000-student district.
A spokesman for Corbett said the release of the money and the girl’s death were not connected.
Corbett also said he and his wife sent their sympathies to the family of 12-year-old Laporshia Massey, whose death is believed to be asthma-related.
Corbett’s acting education secretary, Carolyn Dumaresq, said her department will review the circumstances of Massey’s death and will try to determine
whether she had an inhaler with her the day she died and whether she was able to self-administer it.
Dumaresq also said her department would review the district’s emergency plans and staffing, and correct any problems she finds.
Dumaresq said it is not unusual for a smaller public school to be without a nurse on site each day because the state requires that the caseload of school
nurses must not exceed 1,500 students per nurse. Sometimes one nurse covers two buildings, Dumaresq said.