Could public comment be allowed at hearing for Bill Green's nomination to head SRC?

Posted: January 31, 2014

The Republican leadership of the state Senate is considering allowing public comment at a hearing on City Councilman Bill Green's nomination to be chairman of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission.

Last week, the advocacy group Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools asked State Sen. Joe Scarnati (R., Jefferson), the president pro tempore, to allow public comment on Gov. Corbett's nomination of Green.

Erik Arneson, spokesman for Senate Republicans, said Tuesday no decision had been made. The committee, he said, could take up the nominations next week.

The law that allowed the state to take over the School District of Philadelphia in 2001 and created the SRC requires Senate approval for board nominees but does not require hearings with public comment.

Written testimony is accepted, but Arneson said he could not recall anyone other than SRC nominees ever speaking to the Rules and Executive Nominations Committee.

Green said he would be glad to meet with advocates.

"The thing that surprises me is that the education advocacy groups in Philadelphia don't just reach out," Green said. "I'm on City Council. I'm happy to meet with them at any time."

Lisa Haver, a retired district teacher who is a leader of the alliance, said her group appreciated Green's willingness to speak to advocates. But the public should have an opportunity to make statements to the senators who will be acting on Green's nomination, she said.

"We are not a colony of Harrisburg," Haver said.

Green has suggested "radical and transformative" changes were needed in the district - fewer district schools and more charters. He also wants vouchers. Recently, however, he said his views on the district had evolved.

Corbett nominated Green this month to become chairman of the SRC, which has been without a leader since Pedro Ramos left in October to deal with family matters.

The SRC's next voting meeting is Feb. 20.

To submit written testimony to the committee, write to Sen. Dominic Pileggi, chairman of the Rules and Executive Nominations Committee, 350 Main Capitol, Harrisburg, Pa. 17120, or contact him at http://www.senatorpileggi.com/email-senator-pileggi.


martha.woodall@phillynews.com215-854-2789

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