A couple of aspects of the story surrounding the revelation that D.C. Public Charter School Board member Barbara Nophlin is working for Friendship PCS through a $195,000 contract stood out for me. The first was the PCSB's executive director Scott Pearson's assertion to the Washington Post's Emma Brown that her engagement does not violate the School Reform Act. So this morning I took a look at the act and here is what it says in reference to this issue:
"No person employed by the District of Columbia public schools or a public charter school shall be eligible to be a member of the Board or to be employed by the Board."
The Post article stated that Ms. Nophlin disclosed her relationship with Friendship at the time she was appointed to the Board in 2013. So I don't understand why a distinction was made between being a direct staff member of a charter school and becoming a contract employee. This is especially true considering today's economic environment in which so many full-time and part-time staff members have been converted to the status of contractor. I think this conflict should have raised a red flag at the time.
The second part of the situation that brings a concern to my mind has to do with a rule put into place after the legal issues arose surrounding Options PCS requiring Board members to receive permission from the executive director before they can do any work for a charter school. But Mr. Pearson reports to the Board, not the other way around. The only way that this requirement makes sense is if permission is granted by Skip McCoy, the PCSB chairman.
We are fortunate in this town to have Charter Board Partners that is able to provide valuable governance expertise regarding matters such as those I'm describing. Perhaps the PCSB should become a client.