HARRISBURG – State Rep. Louise Williams Bishop, D- Phila., has introduced legislation that would eliminate the current Philadelphia School Reform Commission and allow the district to be operated by an elected school board.
Bishop said the legislation (H.B. 1517) addresses serious issues in the school’s operation.
“After 10 years of the district operating by the reform commission, schools remain in a distressed state such as not being in compliance with state laws, not remaining open for a full school year and defaulting on financial obligations, “Bishop said. “My bill would allow the elected school directors to take control of the school district and resolve these major concerns.”
Bishop said in 2001, the Pennsylvania Department of Education declared Philadelphia schools to be in distress. At that time under Act 88 of the state’s public school code, control of the school district was turned over to the state and the City of Philadelphia’s school reform commission.
The school reform commission is comprised of four members appointed by the governor and one member appointed by the Philadelphia mayor. They serve various terms in office.
At least three of the commission members, including the member appointed by the mayor, are residents of the school district.
“We need the school district to be operated by an elected board instead of an appointed group of handpicked people,” Bishop said.
The bill is being considered in the House Education Committee.
Bishop is Democratic chairwoman of the House Children and Youth Committee.