MyPhillyLawyer negotiates resignation of embattled Philadelphia Schools Superintendent Arlene Ackerman
By Dean I Weitzman, Esq. on August 24th, 2011
Embattled Philadelphia Schools Superintendent Arlene C. Ackerman formally resigned her post today in a contract settlement negotiated by the legal team at MyPhillyLawyer.
Behind the scenes over the last month, the lawyers of MyPhillyLawyer represented Ackerman throughout the process, ensuring that the terms of her employment contract and compensation were fully met and that the school system would be able to move on with new leadership in an orderly transition. Under the agreement, Ackerman will receive a $905,000 settlement to end her employment contract with the school district.
“This settlement saved the School District of Philadelphia a tremendous amount of grief by completing the resignation now,” Dean I. Weitzman, managing partner of MyPhillyLawyer, said. “It could have been a total distraction at the beginning of the school year and to the transition of a new schools superintendent if the recent controversy continued. The settlement benefits the city by avoiding a protracted litigation process over her contract and allows everyone to part ways with no mudslinging and mutual dignity and respect intact. The matter has been settled it in a fair and mutual way.”
MyPhillyLawyer has represented Ackerman since late July in negotiations with the school district and the city’s School Reform Commission.
“Everyone deserves excellent legal representation,” said Robert S. Nix, a MyPhillyLawyer attorney who also served on Ackerman’s legal team. “She deserves everything that her contract promised her. People may disagree. Local politicians and all the other stakeholders may disagree on how to use scarce resources, but nobody can disagree that she shouldn’t receive what was rightfully owed to her under her agreed-upon contract. That’s what the school district agreed to as a condition of her employment and that’s what we fought for and achieved for her.”
MyPhillyLawyer was hired after Ackerman met managing partner Dean I. Weitzman earlier this year at a local community event in Philadelphia.
“She called Dean after meeting him at an event on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday,” Nix said. “She wanted a tough local lawyer to represent her, who she knew would fight for her. She even said that. It was really a function of Dean’s reputation and MyPhillyLawyer’s reputation for being willing to fight for clients.”
MyPhillyLawyer handles a wide variety of legal cases, from personal injury to birth injury claims to contract and estate cases, criminal cases and much more, with expertise from a diverse staff of experienced and successful attorneys and support staff members.
As part of the negotiations, Ackerman is declining additional money that would have been owed to her under a one-year contract extension that was announced earlier this year. Instead, that money from the contract extension will be retained by the school district and will be earmarked for the district’s nine Promise Academy schools as part of a turn-around program for low-performing schools.
“When Winning Matters Most” is MyPhillyLawyer’s slogan, but in this case, everybody wins by avoiding protracted legal proceedings, allowing the school year to begin with less distractions and providing Ackerman with a settlement that fulfills the terms of her contract. In addition, the students of the School District of Philadelphia win through the give-back of money that will provide funding for the Promise Academy program.
“That is the best way to finalize the separation agreement because it still keeps the focus and emphasis on the children, as it should be,” Ackerman stated in a district press release. By agreeing to the contract buyout, Ackerman will help the School Reform Commission have the money that’s needed to continue the work of the Promise Academy schools.
In the city’s press release, School Reform Commission Chairperson Robert L. Archie Jr. thanked Ackerman for her dedication to the district during her tenure since arriving in 2008.
“All of us wish to acknowledge the substantial debt we owe Dr. Ackerman for her hard work and dedicated service to the District,” Archie stated. “In 2008, when she was recruited to leave her tenured professorship and come to Philadelphia, less than 50 percent of the District’s students were at or above statewide standards for reading and math proficiency. Dr. Ackerman immediately set out a comprehensive plan to target reforms that would close the achievement gap while raising the District’s performance across the board. The aggressiveness of Dr. Ackerman’s five-year strategic plan, Imagine 2014, was outweighed solely by her personal commitment to demonstrating that given the right systemic reforms, all of our children can achieve. “We see tangible evidence of the progress the District has made toward that goal in just three short years under Dr. Ackerman’s leadership.”
“Throughout her more than 40 years in education, Dr. Ackerman has always put the needs of children above her own,” Archie stated. “This decision, as difficult as it was for Dr. Ackerman, is consistent with her history, as well as recognition that for the District to best move forward, it must do so with new leadership.”
In a letter to city residents, Ackerman said her work with the district has been deeply rewarding.
“As I step down, I want to thank parents and guardians for entrusting me with the gift of serving your daughters, sons, grandchildren, nieces and nephews,” she said. “I thank you for coming out to the parent roundtables and for opening up your homes for me to visit with you and your neighbors. It is with respect and admiration that I also thank the thousands of dedicated educators including principals, teachers, administrators and other staff members who work tirelessly everyday making big and small miracles for children.”