Thursday, July 2, 2009

Mayor to appoint new school board member

From today's PG:


deegazette said...

Good luck to both "candidates." A hat-tip to Ms. Arnet for the timing of her resignation. Naming a replacement would have felt much more urgent if her resignation had come during the school year.

Questioner said...

If she had resigned by mid-January it wouldn't even have been a question of naming a replacement- candidates would have been on the May primary ballot.

July 2, 2009 6:12 PM

Anonymous said...

Ms. Fine, Ms. Werner and other members of PURE Reform...interested? Then maybe some real changes can occur.

Annette Werner said...

Two PURE members that live in director district 2 ARE very interested- Kathy Fine and Stephanie Tecza. I have personally observed the dedication that each of these women has shown to public education in Pittsburgh. Either of them would make a terrific school board director.

PURE will be posting their resumes. We encourage you to contact the mayor's office and school board president to express your support for them.

Anonymous said...

It looks like the Post-Gazette has weighed in on the appointment. Are they totally blind to what is happening in the district? The Pittsburgh Promise is not a cure-all for failing kids and middle class kids deserting the public schools.

Questioner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Questioner said...

For a balanced presentation, it's always safe to mention the Pittsburgh Promise on the "positive" side of the ledger!

Questioner said...

PG editorial "School board choice":

Questioner said...

Thanks to Mark Rauterkus for creating links to resumes for

Kathy Fine:


Stephanie Tecza:

Cover letters from Kathy and Stephanie along with links to the resumes will also be posted as a Featured Topic on PURE's website.

Other interested candidates are encouraged to send their information which to be added (in alphabetical order) to this Featured Topic.

Questioner said...

Cover letters for candidates have now been posted on PURE's website,, Featured Topics tab. The two candidates currently listed certainly seem to have strong records of educational and personal achievement.

Anonymous said...

GOOD LUCK to these candidates. But I bet the mayor and superintendent dig someone up from Pitt maybe in the education department.

Anonymous said...

The PG is in bed with the Roosevelt Administration and has been hypnotized into thinking that the Promise IS the cure all. Never mind curricula which is horrible. Never mind the destruction of academic integrity with a grading policy that university types have laughed about. Integrity? What about journalistic integrity in asking the tough questions.
As far as an appointee from Pitt, Good Heavens. The association that this group of people has with PPS ought to be required reading for anyone who wonders what "ivory tower mentality" means. They are so out of touch with the reality of our schools that one must wonder who they are thinking of when they oversee curriculum writing and policy pieces.
I'll be rooting for Mrs.Fine or Ms.Tecza, that's for sure. An appointment of either would be a win for the common man.

Mark Rauterkus said...

I wonder, does the mayor's appointment need to reside within the district of the seat now being vacated?

Questioner said...

Yes, only those living in director district 2 are eligible.

deegazette said...

The PG today carried a story about the number of applicants for the school director position. An agenda review meeting will be held next week and a legislative meeting the following week. Ideally, Ms. Arnet's replacement should be named before those meetings.

Questioner said...

Here is the link to the article:

The article mentions that over the coming weeks some of the applicants will be interviewed. The mayor's office did not indicate who the seven are, and apparently only Kathy and Stephanie have notified the PG of their applications.

Anonymous said...

I am curious as to whether the list of applicants has to be made public under the Sunshine Act. The qualifications of the applicants should be available to all.

Questioner said...

Here is a link to the State's Open Records website- maybe it has some guidance on this question.

Annette Werner said...

I posted this question on the Open Record Forum and received this prompt and helpful response:

Names of applicants for school board appointment

Today at 11:06am

My question involves applicants for appointment to a school board. There is a vacancy on the board and the mayor will be appointing a replacement for this non-paying position. The mayor's office indicates that several people have applied for the position. Should this information be released under the open record law? Also, the mayor has only 30 days to make the appointment. If the information is open to the public, is there anything that would require it to be released sooner than the normal 30 days, since at that time the appointment will already have been made?

Re: Names of applicants for school board appointme
Reply #1 - Today at 12:05pm Good question ...

The answer to this one isn't entirely clear.

We can start with the assumption, however, under the new Right to Know Law, that ALL records are public.

Then, looking at the list of exceptions (for types of records that do not have to be released), there is only one section that would seem to apply, which deals with "agency employees."

While this section clearly allows letters of reference and recommendation for an agency job to be withheld, there is a "reverse exception" that says such letters of reference and recommendation having to do with appointments to fill an elected position -- such as on your school board -- have to be released.

Here is the entire language of that section, which says the following records do not have to be released:

(7) The following records relating to an agency employee:

(i) A letter of reference or recommendation pertaining to the character or qualifications of an identifiable individual, unless it was prepared in relation to the appointment of an individual to fill a vacancy in an elected office or an appointed office requiring Senate confirmation.

Another part of this same exception says the following records do not have to be disclosed:

(iv) The employment application of an individual who is not hired by the agency.

We're left to wonder, by the wording of (iv), if this employment application exception should only apply to hired employees ... or if an agency could apply it to appointed positions as well. Clearly, in (i), there was an attempt to make appointments to fill vacancies a separate class, and not subject to the provision protecting letters of reference.

My assumption, taking the words in this exception at face value, is that letters of application to your school board vacancy WOULD be public record, because the exception uses the words "employment application" and "hired," which would NOT apply to an appointment to an otherwise elected post.

In any case, you should go ahead and submit a Right to Know Request for those letters of applications, and see how the mayor's office responds.

However, as to the second part of your question ... Unfortunately, there is nothing in the Right to Know Law that requires an agency to provide records on any other time schedule than what is provided for in the law.

While the law requires an initial response from the mayor's office within five business days, there is the provision that allows it to take an additional 30 calendar days to give the final response (turn over the records), by citing one of the reasons in the law for taking that extension. "A legal review is necessary" is the one being used most often by agencies.

So, you're right.... Even if it was clear as day that applications for appointments to elected posts are public records, the mayor's office could legitimately take the 30-day extension, and you wouldn't receive the records you wanted until after the appointment was made.

In my view, however, it is important that you make the request, regardless.

Kim de Bourbon
Executive Director
Pennsylvania Freedom of Information Coalition

Annette Werner said...

My letter to the Mayor about this appointment has been posted on the PURE Reform website, Featured Topic "Candidates," following the letters provided by candidates.

My letter urges appointment of a candidate who is sincerely interested in school district issues and committed to communicating with the citizens that he or she represents.

Questioner said...

Stephanie Tecza's resume has been updated to include additional information.

The link is