Mariana Bracetti Academy Charter School

Part 1 of 5 – Parents scream “Discrimination!”
By T Martin (as Escritor X)

Last month, several parents supporting Ida Navarro’s fight for a better qualified administration at a local charter school came to NorFilly Magazine with a story. Their story was about how they felt mistreated and misguided about the principles of Bracetti Charter School, located at Kensington Avenue and Cumberland Street, where they thought their children would be given the educational experience for which founding staff members toiled so hard to bring about.

Parents of children enrolled at the charter school aren’t the only ones to express problems with the school, however. The Philadelphia School District’s own School Reform Commission denied the school’s charter renewal request, citing poor bookkeeping, incomplete staff background checks and less than 75% certification among teachers as reasons for the denial. Academy Executive Director Angela Villani said that the school refuted some things in writing and is working with the District to rectify any other problems in renewing the school’s charter for September.

This, of course, didn’t encourage some of the parents about the quality of education their children were getting at the school. Spearheaded by Navarro, who shared her story about changes in the school’s administration, a handful of parents circulated a petition that eventually garnered 130 signatures, at least 100 of them signed by parents of children enrolled in the school. The petition calls for 100% certification among school staff, instead of the current 75%.

But Navarro didn’t just run to the press with a wild tale about being treated like dirt at her children’s school. She had several sit-downs with Villani about her concerns. She even spoke to the president of the school’s board of trustees, Colleen Davis, a beacon in the Latino community. Navarro just didn’t feel she was getting through to anyone how little school administration was qualified to run the school and to oversee a thorough and well-rounded education for her children.

NorFilly told Navarro during an interview that some of the things she and other anonymous parents told us was evident throughout most schools, and didn’t really say much about Bracetti School in particular. For instance, NF dismissed complaints about understaffing, lack of safety, children roaming halls and using foul language, inconsistent uniform policy and lack of materials, to name a few.

NF also took into consideration the difference between the parents’ view of a school administration and that of a staff member toiling daily within the walls of the school. Questioning the school on the concerns expressed by Navarro and other parents, Villani responded by saying that she doesn’t discuss parental concerns with anyone but the parents. Fair enough, NF quoted her on that and ran a story.

However, it’s worth pointing out that parents do hold the power in a charter school setting because if they banded together and withdrew their children, a highly unlikely situation, the school would have no students with which to open. Clearly, this is not the intention of parents who came forward to demand answers about the school’s administration.