By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Friday is the first meeting for the panel that will sift through the applications for Philadelphia’s new local school board. But there’s a debate over how much of the process will happen behind closed doors.

The 13 Philadelphians who make up the school board nominating panel meet for the first time Friday. It’s the panel’s job to give Mayor Kenney 27 names from which he’ll appoint nine people to the new local board that will replace the School Reform Commission.

The mayor’s Office of Education says only the start of the nominating panel’s City Hall meeting will be open to the public.

Activist Lisa Haver of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools, believes that violates the Sunshine Act.

“They’re not an advisory panel. They’re a governmental body. They have to conduct all deliberations in public,” she said.

Jim Engler, the Deputy Mayor for Policy and Legislation, maintains the law is on the city’s side.

“We do believe that the Sunshine Act allows for executive sessions when matters to be discussed include the employment, or appointment, of prospective public officers,” said Engler.

The nominating panel is choosing from about 200 applications received so far.

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