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Nutter begins probe of Philadelphia school district

Mayor ‘concerned’ with selection process of certain charters. At center of issue is discussions with one company, which was approved then turned down offer.

When the School Reform Commission unanimously voted to turn the struggling Martin Luther King High over to Mosaica Turnaround Partners last month, state Rep. Dwight Evans said he opposed converting district schools to charter operators.

SRC Chairman Robert L. Archie abstained from the vote since the law firm in which he’s a partner previously represented Foundations Inc., a New Jersey group, which did have Evans’ support and also competed to run the school.

Both Mosaica and Foundations have since dropped out of the Renaissance Schools Initiative mix after closed-door meetings, and yesterday, Mayor Michael Nutter announced a fact-finding investigation into the “selection process.”

“I am concerned about the circumstances that led to the School District’s decision not to retain any charter operator for Martin Luther King High School,” Nutter wrote in a letter to Archie yesterday. Referencing the SRC’s unanimous vote, “I am particularly concerned about the many unanswered questions surrounding the [Mosaica] withdrawal.”

The city’s chief integrity officer will conduct the interviews and Nutter indicated Archie has agreed to direct Superintendent Arlene Ackerman to cooperate and expects him to encourage SRC members and charter applicants to do the same.

“We are in full support of the fact-finding work … and will help in any way we’re asked,” school district spokeswoman Jamilah Fraser said yesterday. A call to Evans’s office for comment went unreturned.

 
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