Behind closed doors with the SRC

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

For years, advocates have criticized the School Reform Commission for conducting important business behind closed doors and flouting the spirit if not the letter of the state Sunshine Act.

Their concern was well-founded, according to a recent Notebook/NewsWorks review of meeting agendas from three years of SRC "executive sessions" – the group’s private discussions before their public meetings.

The SRC’s new commissioners say they are committed to being more transparent.

"The default should be that discussion happens in a public session," said Wendell Pritchett.

On November 2, the SRC took another unprecedented step toward openness, granting a Notebook/NewsWorks reporter access to a portion of their executive session.

Attorney David Lapp of the Education Law Center said it’s an encouraging sign.

"This is a small group that has the power to make decisions that affect hundreds of thousands of children and involve billions of dollars in public money," said Lapp.

"It’s important they recognize that the public has a right to be part of the process."

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