Helen Gym, Parents United for Public Education: 215-808-1400
Jerry Mondesire, Philadelphia Branch NAACP: 215-848-7864
Michael Churchill, Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia: 267-546-1318
Press Conference: Private dollars vs. Public Interest
Parents/NAACP to file Ethics Board complaint
on Foundation and Boston Consulting Group
Wed., Dec. 5, 2012
1:30 p.m. 1515 Arch Street
Parents United for Public Education, the Philadelphia Home and School Council, and the Philadelphia branch of the NAACP will file a complaint with the City Ethics Board tomorrow that the William Penn Foundation and private donors hired a consulting firm to lobby the School District of Philadelphia around a controversial plan to restructure public education in Philadelphia. The lobbying focused on charter expansion and identifying 60 schools for closure among other areas, complainants said.
“This complaint is fundamentally about the public understanding that the controversial plan by the Boston Consulting Group was funded by narrow private interests with a specific agenda,” said parent Gerald Wright, a co-founder of Parents United for Public Education. “They have been allowed unprecedented access to information and data denied to the public, and they have had unprecedented access to lobby top decisionmakers without ever identifying as lobbyists.”
Earlier this fall, parents requested a legal analysis from the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia about the activities of BCG and the foundation which funded those activities. PILCOP concluded that Boston Consulting Group should have registered as a lobbyist and the William Penn Foundation and its private donors should have registered as principals according to the Lobbying Disclosure Ordinance. That opinion was based on facts set forth in the attached complaint.
The complaint states that the William Penn Foundation solicited more than $1 million from private donors to hire the Boston Consulting Group in the spring and summer of 2012. The Foundation signed at least two contracts with the Boston Consulting Group without the School District being a party to the contract. During that time, BCG worked aggressively as a lobbyist for the William Penn Foundation and its private donors around charter school expansion and identifying dozens of schools for closure among other issues.
“School closings are a public process and a matter of public dialogue,” said Helen Gym, parent. “Instead a handful of wealthy donors have bought themselves access to the School District. We think the public needs to know what happened here.”
Parents and the Philadelphia branch of the NAACP will hold a press conference tomorrow. PILCOP attorney Michael Churchill will also be on hand to answer questions.