Helen Gym Calls for Investigation of School Police Use of Force

Stills from the original video posted on Facebook by the Philadelphia Student Union.

Stills from the original video posted on Facebook by the Philadelphia Student Union.

Councilwoman Helen Gym sent a letter on Tuesday to the School District and the School Reform Commission calling for an investigation of an incident at Benjamin Franklin High School last week in which a student accused a school police officer of assault. The officer was filmed restraining the student, sparking condemnation on social media. A spokesman for the District told Philly Mag last week that the incident is being investigated, and that the officer had been reassigned.  Read more »

Council: Why Did $1.3 Million for School Nurses Go Unspent?

Photo | It's Our City via Flickr / Creative Commons

Photo | It’s Our City via Flickr / Creative Commons

The Philadelphia School District has a modest fund balance this year, meaning for the first time in recent memory it spent less money than it budgeted.

But that’s the result of “bad savings,” Councilwoman Helen Gym said during City Council’s hearings on the District’s budget Tuesday. It’s not that the district just managed its money well; instead, it failed to spend budgeted money on basic services, Gym said. That includes a gap of $1.3 million budgeted but not spent on school nurses, $4 million on maintenance and repair, and $2 million on special education bus attendants. In all, the district saved $65 million through staff vacancies and deferred maintenance, Gym pointed out. Read more »

Rob Wasserman’s Burger Brawl Hasn’t Donated Nearly as Much Money to Schools as He’s Said it Has

Photo by HughE Dillon

Rob Wasserman | Photo by HughE Dillon

Restaurateur Rob Wasserman is best known as the owner of Rouge, the legendary Rittenhouse Square boîte that Neil Stein opened in 1998 and which Wasserman bought 10 years ago. But in recent years, Wasserman decided to add philanthropist to his business card, and Philadelphia magazine has learned that there is trouble in that department. Read more »

Moody’s Offers Negative Outlook on School District Debt

Photo | It's Our City via Flickr / Creative Commons

Photo | It’s Our City via Flickr / Creative Commons

The Philadelphia School District is more financially stable than it’s been in a while, but there are still plenty of problems.

That’s the assessment from Moody’s, which last week affirmed its negative outlook on the $3.1 billion in outstanding debt.

“We are working to achieve and present a stabilized budget and long term fiscal plan,” Supt. William Hite said in a press release issued today, “and it is important that independent reviewers like Moody’s are recognizing our efforts.” Read more »

PA Pols Want to Stop Locking Up Parents of Truant Students

Photo | It's Our City via Flickr / Creative Commons

Photo | It’s Our City via Flickr / Creative Commons

Is pressing charges against the parent of a habitually truant student a good idea?

State Sen. Vincent Hughes has a simple three-word answer: “Oh hell no.”

Hughes and a number of Democratic and Republican state senators are trying to remove that option from the table with a Senate bill that could overhaul the way schools address truancy across Pennsylvania. Read more »

Bill Hite Has the Hardest Job in the Country

Photograph by Justin James Muir.

Photograph by Justin James Muir.

On the third Thursday of every month, William Hite is subjected to four hours of ritual torture.

The sessions take place in an auditorium at the headquarters of the School District of Philadelphia, on North Broad Street. Starting around 5:30 p.m., several hundred education obsessives march in and locate seats. Sometimes they bring musical instruments. Hite sits at the front of the room next to the five members of the School Reform Commission, Philadelphia’s peculiar version of a school board. Well-built, impeccably dressed, perfectly composed, Philly’s school superintendent awaits the onslaught. Read more »

Hite: Every School Will Get a Nurse, Counselor If Wolf’s Budget Passes

Philadelphia School District Building

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Superintendent William Hite made a surprise announcement Thursday that every school in Philadelphia will have a full-time nurse and counselor next year — if, that is, the state’s GOP-controlled General Assembly passes Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget.

That’s a very big if. Pennsylvania still lacks a complete budget for this year.

Fernando Gallard, a spokesman for the school district, said it will need to hire 61 nurses and 42.5 school counselors (.5 because some are part-time) in order to make up for the current holes. He said this will cost a total of $12.9 million — $5 million for counselors and $7.9 million for nurses. Read more »

Study: Philly Support for Public Schools Is On the Rise

School District of Philadelphia

Photo by Jeff Fusco

There is a perception in some circles that the City of Philadelphia has been less than generous when it comes to public schools. But maybe it’s time to rethink that view.

new report from Temple University’s Center on Regional Politics suggests the city has dramatically boosted its financial support for schools in recent years — and that the city’s oft-impoverished residents are carrying a heavier-than-expected tax burden as a result.

The study, “How Well Does Philadelphia Support Its Public Schools? A New Perspective,” avoids concluding that the city “does more than it gets credit for doing.” But it highlights important data: Read more »

WATCH: Northeast High Girl Turns Video of Her Beating Into Anti-Bullying Crusade

Images from Mia DeJesus' video.

Images from Mia DeJesus’ anti-bullying video.

Mia DeJesus says she was beaten unconscious in a Northeast High School bathroom last week — and to make things worse, her attackers posted video of the incident online to see.

Now the video is going viral — promoted by 16-year-old DeJesus herself, as a statement against bullying.

“I refuse to be held hostage by this video and my fear,” she says in a voiceover. “I will not be a victim.”

Watch: Read more »

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