School District Money Only to Buy Out Ackerman

Donors nix vowed $405K in Pa. schools chief buyout

Wednesday, Sep 7, 2011  |  Updated 11:43 PM EDT
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Taxpayers Buy Out Ackerman

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The Philadelphia School District is using more public money to send former Superintendent Arlene Ackerman away.

Philly school officials say private donors reneged on nearly $405,000 in pledges toward a severance package for the superintendent, leaving the district on the hook for the entire $905,000 buyout.

The money was paid Wednesday, about two weeks after Arlene Ackerman's tenure ended. Her leadership saw increased test scores and graduation rates but also clashes with community members, the teachers' union and elected officials.

The district said in a statement that the private money was withdrawn because of public concern over the donors' anonymity.

Here is a snippet of the statement:

As a result, the payment to Dr. Ackerman does not include payments from anonymous private donors. Instead, all funds to Dr. Ackerman are public dollars from the Philadelphia School District.

Yesterday, the District had a tremendously successful opening of schools and a great first day.  We intend to move forward and return our focus to the important work before us of building a system of great schools for all of our children.

Ethics and education experts had criticized the unusual public-private buyout. They said the lack of transparency created questions about whether the donors expected the favor to be returned.

Officials said they were trying to minimize taxpayer liability.

The state auditor general is investigating Ackerman's severance arrangement.

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