The unusual arrangement was promoted as a creative way for the cash-strapped district to get expert advice, but Helen Gym, a co-founder of the Parents United group, blasted it as a scheme to remake the 146,000-student district with a preset privatization agenda - and with little public scrutiny.
"It's not about what's best for the School District of Philadelphia but what a narrow set of private interests have determined," Gym said.
The groups are basing their effort on a recent report from the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia alleging that Boston Consulting should have registered as a lobbyist and that the William Penn Foundation should disclose its donors for the project. The groups are asking the Ethics Board to require those disclosures and possibly fine the foundation and consulting firm.
The complaint comes just a week after the sudden, unexpected departure of the Foundation's outspoken president, Jeremy Nowak, who was seen as driving the push for more charter schools and private management. Officials of the $2 billion foundation said the departure was a result of clashing styles, not policy differences.
Both the William Penn Foundation and Boston Consulting Group emailed statements to the Daily News that they'd done nothing wrong.
"We are aware of their intent to file a complaint, and our attorneys are confident that it is without merit," said the foundation spokesman Brent Thompson. "The William Penn Foundation has been a force for public integrity and civic good in the Greater Philadelphia region for nearly 70 years."
"BCG was hired as a consultant to the school district," said spokesman David Fondiller. ". . . None of our activities on behalf of the district constituted lobbying under the law."
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