Arlene Ackerman Gets $905,000 Buyout As Philadelphia Schools Chief

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Arlene Ackerman is out as Philadelphia schools superintendent just two weeks before the new school year begins.

Her attorney, Robert Nix, confirmed this morning to KYW Newsradio that Ackerman’s reign as head of the Philadelphia school system is over, after working out a separation agreement that will give her her full salary for the remainder of her original five-year contract.

Ackerman has been under pressure for much of her tenure in Philadelphia, over several issues  (see previous story): racial violence at South Philadelphia High School, a no-bid contract awarded to a minority firm (see related story), and the whopping budget deficit (see related story).

The School Reform Commission issued a statement that Ackerman will be paid $905,000, comprised of $500,000 from the SRC and $405,000 from “anonymous private contributions.”

Critics wasted little time to point out two major issues with Dr. Ackerman’s buyout. The first is the sheer size – nearly $1 million. The second is where the money is coming from. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are coming from secret donors Mayor Michael Nutter says at least in part he helped solicit.

Parents United for a Public Education says “The $905,000 is an outrageous sum for a starving district where families and school staff are scrambling to meet basic needs.”

“The lack of transparency is outrageous,” says Zachary Stalberg of the government watchdog group Committee of 70.

He doesn’t like how the deal got done.

Private donors paying big money is a problem, according to Stalberg.

“Usually people give money and expect something in return. As long as it’s secret, the public has no idea weather someone ever gets in return for this money,” Stalberg said.

Read the Joint Statement on Ackerman’s Departure (.pdf format)

Nix says the agreement is in the best interest of both his client and the School District of Philadelphia.

“It’s for the benefit of the children, for a smooth transition that doesn’t go into some sort of ugly litigation or all kinds of things that can happen when a relationship comes to an end,” Nix told KYW Newsradio.

Nix says Ackerman has agreed to forego her salary for the one-year-contract extension the School Reform Commission gave her last February on the condition that the money be earmarked for the “promise academies” that were a key part of her “Imagine 2014” school reform plan (see related story).

The furor over Ackerman’s leadership came to a head earlier this year when it was suddenly revealed that the school district faced a deficit of more than $620 million.  Some of those involved in those negotiations to help the district deal with this massive deficit became unhappy with Ackerman’s leadership style, including top city officials.

An effort arose to see that she would depart much sooner than at the conclusion of her current contract, which runs through 2014.

Union Leaders React to Ackerman’s Departure

Ackerman’s deputy, Leroy Nunery, has been appointed acting superintendent while a national search is conducted for a permanent replacement.

Reported by Pat Loeb and Mike DeNardo, KYW Newsradio; Todd Quinones, CBS3


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One Comment

  1. Dan says:


  2. Liz says:

    Hmm, left a comment yesterday stating she was a disgrace to our City, our System, our Teacher, and our Students. She was held accountable to no one and the City (or rather homeowners real estate taxes) pay for her to leave. She is a worthless, selfish PIG who just sucked money out of our kids education. Hellooooo Mayor Nutter. It’s called do a bad job, you get fired. If she wanted to sue, let her. So the School District goes further into debt. I’m one of the fools who believes in the School District. It did right by me and it did right by my son. What’s on the horizon – all PAID FOR education which is supposed to be free. Mayor Nutter, I’m on your side, but she should be in the unemployment line, not driving away with a million dollars.

  3. whatsup says:

    Philly should be in Receivership because they are such a mess. Taxpayers of Philly should be marching in the streets because of incompetence on the part of the adm.

  4. TT says:

    She should be ashamed of her self! No wonder the city went broke. The “Street” admin got away with a lot.

  5. Product of SDPhila says:

    This is what the School District of Philadelphia is teaching our kids today, that if you do a bad job you still get one million dollars cash after you lose your job.

  6. rcerzosimo says:

    She should be given two weeks severance salary and shown the door…just like millions of others in this economy. If I were still a Philly resident, I’d be planning a rally on the school board right now.
    God good people…the school board and city government works for YOU! Stand up and tell them that this is unacceptable and will not happen. File a junction…something, anything…but do it now!

  7. Colorless Love says:

    Whether you like Ackerman or dislike her, whether you agreed with her methods and ideas or not…. Explain to me 1. How do you get rewarded that greatly for doing a poor job? 2. How do you get a pay off that’s greater that the school district deficit? and 3. Who are these private donors?????

    1. Angry Revolutionary says:

      The private donors were companies that were sick of her incompetence.

  8. dmac says:

    This is about money ,Arlene took 7 mil from the white boys,and gave it to the black boys,its all about contracts,what needs to be done is the FBI needs to investigate

  9. HH Fan says:

    Sc rew up big time and get rewarded with a million dollar payoff?

    Must be great being an A A hire. I’m sure some other city will hire her despite her incom petence.

  10. MrX says:

    WHERE IS THE BLACK CAUCUS and NAACP to the help poor DR.A from spending this 905,000$ USD?

    Who cares if she breeds mobsters.

  11. thesampler says:

    They could have gotten her whacked for a fraction of that 905 million. Shame this isn’t Jersey.

    1. Matt says:

      Wow, you are a f*cking idiot !!!

      1. HH Fan says:

        Libta rds don’t know sarcasm when they see it. I’m still laughing.

  12. Larry says:

    This is outrageous! We don’t even do this for our beloved sports figures.

    The Nutter administration should take full responsibility for this catastrophy!

    I am moving out of Philly and encouraging my firm to do the same.

  13. Iisa says:

    I like how are property taxes just paid her bailout.

  14. Mark Stoots says:

    As usual as you look at the comments there are and will be others that want to try to make this a color issue. That is the shame here, This woman was a disgrace and a detriment to our kids learning. She had the same history in her previous jobs but they hired her anyway (see PHA for same) Good riddance! This is NOT a color issue it is a ethic issue, if she really cared for HER kids here she would have just bowed ouot and not reamed the system for close to 1mil…

    1. Mindy says:

      BRAVO !!!!!!!!for you Mark Stoots. I am in total agreement with you.I wish that I would have said it first. THANKYOU,THANKYOU,THANKYOU !!!!!!!!

    2. Money brings evil says:

      She made this a race issue as soon as she asked the black caucus and NAACP to get involved, but quickly took the cash bag off the table once it was delivered without counting it.

      She was really due 1.2 million.

  15. Peter says:

    have been trying to folow this in the news and have no clue as to what happened. The reporting is sketchy and full of innuendo at best. Why doesn’t anybody ever come out and say exactly what did this woman did that required her to be pushed out of her job?

  16. retired analyst says:

    Philadelphia you’re a robbery victim. What kind of gun was she using to steal that much from you?

  17. richard hackett says:

    proving yet again what an utter money grubbing disgrace this women is.i hope the next city is forwarned before this con is let loose again.

  18. Frank Wisniewski Jr says:

    Its about time!

  19. JW says:

    Having recently retired from the military w/ not only combat experience, leadership and an ability to get things down, I have commanded a training unit responsible for training 37k thousand service members a year. Being from the Philadelphia area I’d be honored to lead the Philadelphia school district, as I’m sure many others who possess similar skill sets. What makes us different, we’re not educators, we’re leaders who work with many to achieve a desired end state. More imprtantly, at a salary far less than paid to “professionals” such as this individual. If I were the Mayor, I’d take a chance and seek out proven leaders, both enlisted and officers, who can bring different thinking to a “group think” body.

    1. Retired E-8 says:

      I second the morion! I retired after 37 years as an E-8, made large scale logistical changes in the way things were run in the supply/deployment arena in both Krygyzstan, Honduras and Guam, and would love the opportunity to take my skill set to an endevor such as this. For example, when a group of 130 soldiers coming into Krygyzstan to process through the mobility center before headingd to the Afghan region took over 3 hours to process, after 2 months of being there, I was able to improve the process so that we could get 100 people processed with their gear in an hour. I had an excellent Col I worked for, he allowed me to use my skills to make the improvements and the results allowed the troops to spend less time processing after a 19 hour flight. With quality leadership, motivated people and a clear goal, results are attainable! Quit throwing money out the window, instrad hire those that can bring results without paying them the massive pay scale that just takes away from the kids.

    2. Liz says:

      Sounds good to me!

  20. Deb Thompson says:

    The school district is BROKE! I would like to have an aduit done of the books!! And I would like to have someone from Philadelphia who knows the Philadelphia System,

  21. Pat Westfield says:

    how can someone who is supposed to be so interested in education take 905,00 when the schools 9educators ) are in such dire straits – Sounds like greed took over instead of c aring. trish – phila.

  22. J Lynch says:

    My goodness that an extremely large amount to give to someone when the school district is broke! What about all the program cuts?? All of a sudden the School District can find this kind of money to buy someone off! and in the same time not provide the proper education for its children. Shame, shame!!

  23. Anders Norsman says:

    Why should the state build schools the kids don’t go and won’t learn if they do. In stead of paying property tax the parents should pay a tax for each kid in school.

  24. Anders Norsman says:

    The shame is she didn’t do a good job and got almost a million dollars to leave.In private industry you are asked to leave when you are incompetent.With out any large cash award.

    1. Disgusted American says:

      What country do you live in? In USA the Banking and Wall St execs run their companies into bankruptcy after taking as much for themselves as they can grab and then ask Govt and Taxpayers for a bailout. Stupid and corrupt corp boards keep saying we need to pay for the ‘best and brightest’ you know and both Dem and Rep parties are fine as long as the campaign $ keeps flowing.

  25. PC says:

    This is disgraceful….You know, I am not necessarily defending Ackerman, but $905K, how was that money available and yet we have so many people out of work? What about our kids and the resources they desperately need!

  26. Ms Robinson says:

    No one, especially the MEDIA (that includes so called reporters) report on the fact that the State would rather build prisons than fund education. You all barely touched that fact. You reporters are a JOKE!

  27. Ms Robinson says:

    This is a damn shame. I am convinced that the powers that be really don’t want our children to learn which is why they find it much easier to build prisons instead of funding education. City & State officials don’t like anyone they can not control.

    1. Angry Revolutionary says:


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