Evans 'did not use power wisely': He lied about role in school-operator selection

Dwight Evans
Dwight Evans
Posted: March 24, 2011

Someone needs to get state Rep. Dwight Evans a new pair of pants because they're on fire.

During an interview with the Daily News Tuesday about his role in orchestrating a change in companies tasked with transforming Martin Luther King High School, Evans left out an important detail - the truth.

Evans took credit last week for lobbying district officials to give the school back to Foundations Inc., instead of Mosaica, the Georgia-based company that was the first choice of parents and the School Reform Commission.

He chronicled his involvement in an interview with the Philadelphia Public School Notebook during which he admitted convincing Mosaica to withdraw from running the school as a charter. He also told reporter Bill Hangley Jr. that he continued to lobby officials on Foundations' behalf.

He later denied his involvement to this reporter, but the Notebook provided some pretty damning evidence yesterday: an audio recording of the interview. The recording had been made with Evans' permission.

In it, Hangley asked Evans on three occasions whether he continued to lobby the SRC and Mosaica after the SRC's vote.

"I was like a bulldog on a bone," Evans said. "You saw it in my eyes and my face."

Members of the school advisory council, which chose Mosaica, met with Evans and district officials on Tuesday, and Evans said he wasn't willing to work with the company.

"He told us he wasn't willing to share his plans with an outsider," said Valerie Johnson, a council member who attended the meeting. "He said he wasn't going to work with someone he didn't know."

He told Hangley that his reason for stepping in was to further his vision of a unified network of schools in northwest Philadelphia.

"I don't have absolute control, so I have to try to persuade . . . influence, use whatever I have as a tool to get them to understand about the greater mission. That's what I have to do," Evans said in the interview, the transcript of which was posted on thenotebook.org yesterday.

"I tried to convince them that this plan is a positive, not a negative, that if I'm given the opportunity . . . I won't disappoint these 1,000 kids. We'll transform this community, transform this state, transform this country."

Johnson said she wished that Evans would have been more forthcoming. "We did feel like it was kind of arrogant of him," she said. "He did not use his power wisely."

A message left with Evans' office wasn't returned yesterday.

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