Farah Jimenez resigns from the School Reform Commission

Her departure leaves four members, which could affect voting. A new school board will take over governance on July 1.

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

UPDATED at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 28.

Farah Jimenez announced her resignation from the School Reform Commission this morning, just four months before the SRC disbands. She has served as a commissioner since January 2014, when she was appointed by former Gov. Tom Corbett.

Jimenez said she is stepping down because of her growing obligations as the president and CEO of the Philadelphia Education Fund, a non-profit education organization that provides professional development to teachers and college prep support for students.

She said she felt “it was now a time to continue to be involved in education giving back to the school children of Philadelphia but to do it 100 percent fully through my vocation, my work at the Philadelphia Education Fund.”

Prior to being appointed to the SRC, Jimenez served as president and CEO of People’s Emergency Center, a social-service agency that provides support for homeless women and children.

Six months into her term she left the organization and served full-time on the SRC until April 2016 when she was named president and CEO of the education fund.

“It has been a gift to be in service to the students of Philadelphia—young people who deserve the very best in education and a city and state committed and invested in their success,” Jimenez, wrote in a resignation letter addressed to Gov. Tom Wolf.

Jimenez also said she looks forward to “continuing to be a support and a resource” to the governor, Mayor Jim Kenney, the District, the incoming local school board, and Philadelphia’s public school students.

Jimenez’s resignation could have an impact on the voting capabilities of the SRC in its waning months. Both SRC Chair Joyce Wilkerson and member Chris McGinleyare among 27 finalists to be on a new school board, which takes over on July 1.

If Kenney wants to name McGinley and Wilkerson, they will have to resign from the SRC, but it is still unclear when. If they resign soon, that will leave the five-member board with only two members between now and July 1.

Gov. Wolf told Philly.com that he doesn’t intend to replace Jimenez.

The position of school reform commissioner is often referred to as a thankless job, but Jimenez said in her career as a volunteer it was the job where she was thanked the most.

Jimenez said there is nothing is greater than the opportunity to “be able to be a part of a body of commissioners who are truly deeply personally civically minded and committed to our students and to be able to work with them alongside a District and superintendent that has a vision and is delivering results for students.”

“Farah Jimenez has been a strong voice on the School Reform Commission over the last four years,” said Dr. William R. Hite, Superintendent for the School District of Philadelphia in statement. “Her commitment as CEO of Philadelphia Education Fund has made a positive impact on students across Philadelphia.”