Philadelphia school board vice president resigns

A woman wearing sunglasses sits in a small red train car outside with her son who is also wearing sunglasses.
Philadelphia Board of Education Vice President Mallory Fix-Lopez announced her resignation, citing the time demands of the position. (Photo courtesy of the School District of Philadelphia)

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Philadelphia Board of Education Vice President Mallory Fix-Lopez has resigned, effective April 18, and has taken herself out of consideration for a future board appointment.

Fix-Lopez cited a planned medical procedure as the reason in a statement on Monday.

In an interview, Fix-Lopez said that with the turn of the new year she got “more concerned about the demand of time.” She has an 8-year-old attending Childs Elementary School in Point Breeze and a 4-year-old who will enter kindergarten there in the fall.

She said she initially applied to stay, but withdrew from the nominating process. “I had planned full steam ahead,” she said, but when she was filling out the kindergarten application, “I slowed down to reflect. The time is too much.”

This unexpected shakeup on the board — where the members are appointed by the mayor — could create an opening for what new Mayor Cherelle Parker intends for the future of the body. Parker has signaled she may be more open to expanding the charter school sector in the city than her predecessor, Jim Kenney, and she could be angling to appoint board members who share her perspective. The board has not approved a new charter school since 2018.

Fix-Lopez said that her resignation was unconnected to any future board appointments.

“I get the optics of the timing. But honestly it’s totally separate,” she told Chalkbeat.

The board serves as the sole charter school authorizer in the city and member terms run concurrent to the mayor’s. In the years when a new mayoral term begins, board terms start on May 1.

The process of naming a new board is underway but has been quiet. Until Fix-Lopez’s resignation announcement, the future of any board members’ positions has been uncertain and Parker’s office has repeatedly declined requests for comment about the process.

Parker has convened her Education Nominating Panel, which is interviewing 121 candidates who applied by the Feb. 1 deadline. The panel is charged with recommending 27 people, three for each of the nine seats. Parker, who took office in January, will make the final appointments, who then must be approved by City Council. The panel next meets on March 12, where it is expected to release their list of recommended candidates.

Parker has not indicated whether she intends to renominate any of the current members or remake the board entirely. Board President Reginald Streater has indicated that he would like to remain.

In a Monday statement, Parker offered “deep thanks” to Fix-Lopez for her service. Streater called her “an incredible educator … who has left an indelible mark on the board” by pushing it “to govern from a student-centered perspective with student achievement at its core.”

Fix-Lopez, who teaches English at Philadelphia Community College, was first appointed in 2018 by Kenney when the district was returned to local control by the state. At the time, a nine-member board replaced the School Reform Commission that had governed the district since 2001.

She was reappointed in 2020 and picked to serve as vice president in 2022 and 2023. Members elect the president and vice president each December.

In her time on the board, Fix-Lopez has been active in establishing and enforcing its Goals and Guardrails since they were approved in 2021 to monitor district progress around academics and set standards for creating welcoming school environments for all students. She took a special interest in district policy regarding transgender and gender-nonconforming students, and in expanding translation services for families who don’t speak English.

She also took the lead in evaluations for both Superintendent Tony Watlington and his predecessor, William Hite.

Dale Mezzacappa is a senior writer for Chalkbeat Philadelphia, where she covers K-12 schools and early childhood education in Philadelphia. Contact Dale at dmezzacappa@chalkbeat.org.

Carly Sitrin is the bureau chief for Chalkbeat Philadelphia. Contact Carly at csitrin@chalkbeat.org.

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