Head of district's charter school office out

Aid program's end protested Protesters, including Jessie Bowden Jr. (right) of North Philly, gather Tuesday at the Bellevue hotel, where Gov. Corbett's local office is housed, a day before the state General Assistance program is set to end. Corbett proposed eliminating the program, which assists 70,000 vulnerable residents, to save about $150 million. Photos: Akira Suwa / Staff Photographer
Aid program's end protested Protesters, including Jessie Bowden Jr. (right) of North Philly, gather Tuesday at the Bellevue hotel, where Gov. Corbett's local office is housed, a day before the state General Assistance program is set to end. Corbett proposed eliminating the program, which assists 70,000 vulnerable residents, to save about $150 million. Photos: Akira Suwa / Staff Photographer
Posted: August 01, 2012

APPARENTLY, former school-district honcho Thomas Darden committed one flub too many for the School Reform Commission to tolerate.

Darden, the deputy chief of strategic programs who oversaw the district's charter-school office, resigned Friday, district spokesman Fernando Gallard said. It came after an especially tense SRC meeting.

During the meeting, Darden recommended that the SRC renew the charter for Belmont Charter School in West Philadelphia but deny it additional seats. A school representative said that because of increasing enrollment, the school was expected to grow and would need more seats. SRC Commissioner Joseph Dworetzky questioned the district's assumption that the school wouldn't need to add seats.

At an SRC meeting the prior week, Darden said the district's cost for charter-school expansions this year would be $39 million, but the price tag later had to be revised to a stunning $139 million.

News of Darden's sudden resignation was first reported Tuesday by the Inquirer.

Darden had earned an annual salary of $127,205 before leaving the district. The former venture capitalist, who had worked as an engineer with General Motors Corp., was hired in 2009 by former superintendent Arlene Ackerman to be her chief of staff, at a $180,000 salary. About six months later, Darden, a 2009 graduate of the Broad Superintendents Academy, was named deputy for process improvement and compliance.

Contact Regina Medina at 215-854-5985 or medinar@phillynews.com. Follow her on Twitter @ReginaMedina.

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