Ackerman: Rumors I'm leaving aren't true

Philadelphia School District Superintendent Dr. Arlene Ackerman is interviewed by reporters on June 27, 2011.

June 27, 2011 3:52:38 PM PDT
Philadelphia Schools Superintendent Arlene Ackerman wants to make something very clear: she is not leaving

"There are no discussions under way between me and the SRC (School Reform Commission) about my leaving," Ackerman said at an SRC meeting Monday.

Are Arlene Ackerman's days numbered? Her contract runs to 2014, but with budget problems and strained relations, there's been buzz.

Last week, a published call for her to hit the road was followed by an online report quoting sources that Ackerman was in talks that could include a million dollar buyout of her contract.

But Ackerman today said that's nonsense.

"Rumors that I am leaving, secret negotiations with the SRC, it simply isn't true," Ackerman told reporters.

Ackerman suggested vested interests threatened by her reforms may be behind the loose talk.

"I don't know where it came from, I don't really care because that is not the issue for me," Ackerman said.

Ackerman maintains her prime focus the same as it was three years ago when she arrived - improving education for all kids. She is hoping for more money from Harrisburg to do that.

But State Representative Michael McGeehan of Northeast Philadelphia says Ackerman lacks believability.

In a statement he says, "The only way Philadelphia can start fresh with lawmakers in Harrisburg is for Ackerman to leave."

It is a view echoed by school activist Helen Gym of the Parents United for Public Education.

"I think the district has lost credibility, I think the School Reform Commission has lost credibility, somebody needs to be held accountable for it. I think it's the reason we can't get more money from the state," Gym said.

Ackerman does have plenty of supporters.

Mayor Michael Nutter was asked if he is among them.

"She is the superintendent of schools here in Philadelphia. I am not anticipating anything different will happen," Nutter said.

"As far as I know, the SRC, the mayor, and all those people who are critical to my staying are still on board," Ackerman said.