Ackerman Exit Deal Going Away?

Breaking her silence could cost former superintendent $905,000 buyout

A Philadelphia School District review of former School Superintendent Arlene Ackerman’s latest public comments could undo a lucrative buyout deal, according to a new report.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Friday that Ackerman’s separation agreement barred public comments that would reveal private and confidential information or were critical of the School Reform Commission or school district officials.

Days after Ackerman’s $905,000 buyout was announced, she gave interviews criticizing commission and school district employees and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

The Inquirer report noted the review of Ackerman’s separation agreement was confirmed by District spokesman Fernando Gallard.

“It is our expectation that Dr. Ackerman will abide by the separation agreement,” Gallard told the Inquirer.

Ackerman’s buyout included $500,000 in public funds and $405,000 from anonymous donors channeled through the Philadelphia’s Children First Fund.

The same fund gave the District $150,000 to fund Ackerman’s transition team when she was first hired.

WHYY NewWorks reported that over $10,000 of that money went to Ackerman. The fund, itself, is also under scrutiny with state and local officials calling for the names of the donors of the fund to be made public.

On Thursday, Pa. Auditor General Jack Wagner notified the Philadelphia School District that his agency will be auditing the Ackerman buyout. Wagner said the public has a right to know the details of the deal.

Last March, Wagner’s performance audit of Philadelphia schools included strong criticism of Ackerman’s salary and bonuses. At that time, he said the superintendent’s contract ($348,000 salary, a $65,000 bonus and an annual performance compensation of up to 20 percent) was “disturbing.”

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