Mayor begins process of filling 3 Philadelphia school board vacancies

Board member Lee Huang resigns

Mayor Jim Kenney standing at a podium.
Mayor Jim Kenney launched the formal process to appoint new members to the city’s school board Tuesday. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Mayor Jim Kenney launched the formal process to appoint three new members to the city’s nine-person school board Tuesday, the same day board member Lee Huang resigned.

Kenney had planned to begin the process on Monday, but that was pushed back due to last week’s election and citywide unrest after police killed Walter Wallace.

The board, which is appointed by the mayor, has lost three members since March. Ameen Akbar, who was appointed to the board in May, stepped down earlier this month to take care of his ailing father. Christopher McGinley, who was appointed in 2018, resigned in March for personal reasons. Huang, who also was appointed in 2018, was reappointed in May and resigned Tuesday. 

“In order to support my family and my professional work, I am not able to serve in this role for an entire second term,” he said.  “And, I believe that the coming adoption of the board’s goals and guardrails and the mayor’s current nominating process make this the best moment to step down so that new individuals can seamlessly move this important work forward.”

“Lee Huang has been instrumental in the successful transition to local governance of the School District of Philadelphia,” said board president Joyce Wilkerson.

For a while, it was unclear if the mayor was going to fill McGinley’s seat, which has been vacant for eight months. Huang was the only man on the board after McGinley and Akbar made their exit.

The current six-member board, in addition to president Wilkerson, includes Angela McIver, Julie Danzy, Mallory Fix Lopez, Maria McColgan, and Leticia Egea-Hinton.  

The nominating panel will convene on Nov. 17, according to the mayor’s office. The application process began early this week and there is a three-week application window.

“We’re seeking candidates who understand the complex needs of youth and who are ready to hit -the -ground running to help implement the School Board’s established goals,” Kenney said Tuesday.

Applicants must  fill out the online form by Dec. 3. 

The city charter requires the nominating panel to send the mayor three names for each board opening, which the panel will do on Dec. 15. He then has 10 days to request additional candidates from the panel. The mayor will send the nominations to City Council on Dec. 21 for approval.

“Strengthening our public schools is one of the top priorities of our administration,” Kenney said Tuesday. “I urge Philadelphians from all backgrounds who are interested in serving on the Board of Education to apply.”

This year’s panel is chaired by Wendell Pritchett, provost at the University of Pennsylvania. The nominating panel members are:

Bonnie Camarda, director of partnerships, The Salvation Army of Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Dan Fitzpatrick, president, Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware

Peter Gonzales, president and CEO, Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians

Derren Mangum, director of Institutional Giving, Opera Philadelphia 

Maura McCarthy, executive director, Fairmount Park Conservancy

Michael Mullins, secretary treasurer, UNITE HERE Local 274

Barbara Moore Williams, educational consultant

Stephanie Naidoff, board member, Fund for the School District of Philadelphia

Ivy Olesh, executive director, Playworks

Ellen Kaplan, citizen at large

Kimberly Pham, community activist and member of the National Council of Young Leaders

Sean Vereen, president, Steppingstone Scholars

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