CAPA Parents and Students Want to Know What Happened to Their Principal

Neither the principal nor the school district will explain her absence.

CAPA principal Joanne Beaver poses with Boyz II Men in 2017 (photo via School District of Philadelphia)

CAPA principal Joanne Beaver poses with Boyz II Men in 2017 (photo via School District of Philadelphia)

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CAPA Parents and Students Want to Know What Happened to Principal Joanne Beaver

Last Friday, scores of seniors at Philadelphia’s High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) wore their finest to Center City’s Loews Hotel for the school’s prom. But one person who wasn’t in attendance: Joanne Beaver, the woman who’s been principal of the famed Philadelphia high school since 2015.

As a matter of fact, Beaver, a school district employee for some 33 years, hasn’t stepped foot in CAPA or participated in any CAPA activities since the beginning of May, say parents, students and employees of the school.

“We haven’t seen her in weeks,” a woman answering the phone in CAPA’s main office (who didn’t identify herself) told me last week. “Nobody has any idea where she is or what happened.”

To be clear, the 58-year-old Northern Liberties resident isn’t a missing person. She simply hasn’t been at work.

CAPA mom Charlotte Calmels says she’s shocked by the lack of communication from the school and the district about the situation. Not only have the school and district not explained to parents why the school is suddenly without a principal — they haven’t even informed parents that Beaver’s not there, say parents. Everybody just kind of figured it out as days turned into weeks and then a month. Calmels and others have asked the school, an assistant superintendent, and board members for answers but have received none.

“It’s all just so odd,” says Calmels, whose daughter is graduating on Monday. “She disappears from school grounds, and we have a complete lack of information and transparency from the district. It just seems really shady that no one is willing to address this. They’re supposed to communicate with parents, staff and students. But they’re not.”

Calmels and other parents have taken to social media, posting the following graphic on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter:

One such parent is Susan DeAngelis, whose daughter is also a senior.

“Starting during the pandemic, I would check in with her a lot to see how she was doing,” DeAngelis says of Beaver. “And now, nothing. This has been a long series of weeks. Everybody is getting ready for prom and graduation, with no principal to be found. And the district hasn’t sent a substitute principal or anything like that.”

DeAngelis says Beaver always had an “open-door and open-phone” policy, and that every Sunday, parents would get robocalls from her letting them know what was happening in the coming week. Since her departure, DeAngelis says, communication from the school has come to a halt.

“We’re in the middle of blundering our way through graduation,” says DeAngelis. “Getting information from the school has been like pulling teeth.”

Last Friday, as her daughter was preparing for prom, DeAngelis tweeted the following at superintendent Tony Watlington: “So this is how my @PHLschools parent experience ends … No communication from anyone? Why are we not getting any communication/information? SDP has to inform its staff, students, communities by insuring communication and be more transparent!”

DeAngelis says she still hasn’t heard anything official.

A spokesperson for the school district declined to comment other than to say the district was preparing a statement but couldn’t give any kind of time frame for that. Parents say the district has been telling them the same thing for weeks — when they can get a response at all. The spokesperson confirms that Beaver is still employed by the district.

When reached for comment on her cell phone, Beaver was friendly but declined to comment, saying, “I’m not at liberty to disclose anything.”

“Somebody needs to say something — and soon,” says one parent, who asked to remain anonymous. “Because there are all kinds of rumors flying. This is, after all, a high school.”

That Blaze Haze

When I walked outside this morning to drive my wife to work, my immediate thought was: Is there a fire nearby? Nope. Not nearby at all. That smell you smell throughout the Philadelphia region is a result of the much-talked-about Canadian wildfires. We can also blame the fires for our hazy sky. Things are so bad in Philadelphia that the city has issued a health alert, declaring that our air quality is “very unhealthy” and as close to as bad as it could be. The city is also telling residents to stay indoors when possible. Great day to be sitting in an open-air stadium and taking in a baseball game, huh?

The Return of Center City Sips

Love it or hate it, Center City Sips is back, starting today. That means every Wednesday through August 30th, dozens of local bars and restaurants are offering $5 beers, $6 wines, $7 cocktails and deals on appetizers. If this is your thing, you can view the full list of Center City Sips participants here. (Call me old-school, but I’ll be at Bob & Barbara’s for their famous $4 beer-and-shot combo. Take that, Sips.)

By the Numbers: The Not-So-Perfect 10 Edition

10: Years a West Philly teacher and activist will likely be banned from teaching after he admitted to a federal judge that he flipped over a police car outside City Hall during the unrest that followed the murder of George Floyd in 2020. He could also see some time in a federal prison.

10: Days a Medford mom will spend in jail for her role in the January 6th insurrection. That’s down from the prosecutor’s recommended eleven months.

10: Carjackings reported over the weekend in Philadelphia.

And from the Lead-Off-Hit Sports Desk …

The Phils got off to another hot start last night, as Taijuan Walker struck out three Tigers in the top of the first and Kyle Schwarber promptly homered off Detroit’s Tyler Alexander.

Walker led off the third by giving out a walk and a wild pitch, but then buckled down for the next three. In the fifth, with one out, Walker allowed a single, a double, and a walk to load the bases before getting the last two outs. Whew. Kody Clemens singled to start the sixth, but that petered out, too. But Walker got the Tigers in the seventh, too, one-two-three. Will Vest came in as the third Tiger reliever in the game and did the same.

Walker’s sterling night was done. Seranthony came in for the eighth and gave up a two-out single to Javier Baez but then got the job done. Unfortunately, so did Vest. Craig Kimbrel started off the ninth and struck out three straight batters.

A triumphant 1-0 win to make it four in a row!

They’ll rendezvous one more time, tonight at 6:10.

All Philly Today Sports Desk coverage is provided by Sandy Hingston.