Thursday, March 01, 2012

New JCPS hire under scrutiny

Nice work from Toni at The Courier-Journal:
From her FEMA days
Questions are being raised about the background and qualifications of a key aide hired Monday by Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Donna Hargens.

Jamilah Fraser, named by Hargens as the chief diversity, community relations and communications officer, resigned suddenly from her previous job with Philadelphia Public Schools after she was accused of running a personal public-relations campaign for the outgoing superintendent, according to published media reports.
And Fraser’s resume indicates she lacked the administrative experience that Hargens initially required for the JCPS position, which will pay her $160,538 annually.

“This employment decision by JCPS is yet another example of the continual and constant ineptitude that continues to be exhibited by the district,” said Louisville attorney J. Bruce Miller, who has been critical of the district’s hiring practices and spending for several years.]

School board member Linda Duncan said Wednesday she also is concerned about Fraser’s past. Duncan said Hargens left board members a voice mail message Wednesday morning, telling them she had 42 applicants for the position and that Fraser was the most qualified of all those who had applied....
According to the City Paper, an independent weekly newspaper in Philadelphia, Fraser was part of a “communications team dedicated to promoting and defending (Superintendent Arlene Ackerman) personally, and which coordinated and assisted public rallies in her favor, communicated regularly with private supporters, and spent taxpayer time and money on various kinds of ‘propaganda,’ including protest signs and a farewell tribute video.” ...
This from The Naked City:
The School District of Philadelphia cleaned its media relations house on Monday when Director Jamilah Fraser and two staffers stepped down alongside Superintendent Arlene Ackerman. Fernando Gallard, a long-time (and thanks to calls from me and other reporters, long-suffering) staffer, is now acting Communications Director.

This is only the most recent of many public relations shakeups at the District. The School District announced the hiring of Fraser and two staffers in November 2010, eleven months after Arlene Ackerman fired two long-time communications staffers. Fraser was Ackerman’s fourth communications chief since 2008.

The Notebook reported that Fraser, like her predecessors, made $170,000. High salaries for central office executives in general, and communications office employees in particular, have sparked controversy throughout Ackerman’s tenure, and staffers have even been accused of coordinating outside protests to support her.
And then there was the $986,000 spent on outside PR in addition to the $2.86 million the District pays for in-house communications...
 And this
Two knowledgeable sources tell City Paper that former Superintendent Arlene Ackerman ran a School District communications team dedicated to promoting and defending her personally, and which coordinated and assisted public rallies in her favor, communicated regularly with private supporters, and spent taxpayer time and money on various kinds of "propaganda," including protest signs and a farewell tribute video. Since Ackerman's departure after negotiating a nearly $1 million buy-out of her contract, one source says the same team continues to manage Ackerman's antagonistic public relations campaign against Mayor Michael Nutter and others.

The three Communications staffers who allegedly orchestrated a personal public relations campaign for Ackerman — former Director Jamilah Fraser, and staffers Shana Kemp and Elizabeth Childs — resigned last Monday, the same day that Ackerman's buyout was announced. According to one source, the three were told they would be fired if they did not resign because they had gone rogue, spending the majority of their time working for the Superintendent even as she was headed for the door.

These sources say that Jamilah Fraser and her two deputies were dedicated to protecting and promoting Ackerman above all else...

This from the Philadelphia Inquirer - December 13, 2011:

City schools' secret Web projects - 

The employee who created them under Ackerman faces losing his job.

Christopher Akers had never met Arlene C. Ackerman before, he says, one of her top aides began ordering him to do secret projects for the controversial former schools chief.

Sometimes he felt uncomfortable about the assignments: a website for a group billed as a grassroots activist organization, or an iPhone game starring Ackerman as a superhero.

But the Philadelphia School District webmaster said he was just trying to stay employed.

"I do my job," said Akers, 30. "Sometimes, you've got a boss that you don't really like that much, but you still have to put food on the table."

On Thursday, Akers was accused of "unsatisfactory work performance," "theft of time, failure to meet deadlines and improper use of district equipment." He expects to be fired.

Akers said he did nothing wrong, but was caught up in School District politics - chosen by Ackerman and her former communications chief, Jamilah Fraser , for special and secretive tasks - and is now paying the price.

Akers first encountered Fraser when he was tapped to create a web page for Ackerman's Renaissance Schools initiative, which targeted failing schools for turnaround. It was the superintendent's signature project.

By all accounts, he wowed the higher-ups. "You've done an amazing job," one of his bosses wrote in an e-mail to Akers dated Jan. 12. "Impressing Dr. Ackerman is definitely a win for the department, so I thank you for your ability to demonstrate your talent under pressure."

Soon after that, Akers was again approached by Fraser. She wanted him to work on more projects for Ackerman. Discretion was crucial...
The only thing he did wrong, Akers said, was doing what a powerful person told him to do.

Akers' disciplinary hearing is scheduled for Tuesday morning. As a member of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, he will have union representation, but he doesn't expect the decision to go his way.
This from the Philadelphia Inquirer, November 20, 2011: 

Former Philly schools official planning lawsuit

The Philadelphia School District's former senior vice president for procurement has submitted court papers signaling that he intends to file a slander and libel suit against the district, the School Reform Commission, former Superintendent Arlene C. Ackerman, and other district officials...[including] Jamilah Fraser, the district's former communications chief...
This from
With the first day of classes rapidly approaching, I’d like nothing better than to be writing about what’s ahead for the Philadelphia School District’s 2011-12 school year. But there are still a few details of the Arlene Ackerman long goodbye that deserve mention. Here’s one: her farewell video. The video is long — 13 minutes and 34 seconds. And dramatic, with text reminding viewers of 5,000 years of civil rights struggles. “An Arlene Ackerman Retrospective” draws stark contrasts between the state of education in the Philadelphia School District prior to her arrival in 2008 (bad) and after she came (much better.)

This from the Philadelphia Examiner September 3, 2011:

Ackerman owned communication staff
After months of speculation about the Philadelphia School District’s involvement in various types of propaganda, the truth has finally emerged. The City Paper’s staff writer, Daniel Denvir, reports that Dr. Ackerman used the district’s communication department for her own self-promotion and it was used to talk with private supporters, make signs as well as the now infamous farewell video.

All these things were paid for by the school district often spending time and money to solely promote Ackerman. Although Arlene Ackerman has said in interviews that the three communication staff members, who were responsible for this debacle, had been fired the real truth is that they resigned. Granted they were told that if they didn’t resign they would be fired, but the three employees opted for resignation. The school district communications department was created to work on behalf of the district and not for one person.

The three staff members, Jamilah Fraser , Shana Kemp and Elizabeth Childs, ignored the requirements of their job only to work as Ackerman’s personal public relations staff. The three women were paid by the school district, but Ackerman made sure they got top dollar.

Fraser earned $170,000 and Kemp and Childs received $135,000 each at the expense of the taxpayers. It was these three women who were responsible for the over-the-top appearance of Ackerman at the principal’s meeting on August 18th.

The July 22nd pro-Ackerman rally was organized by Fraser and the posters were made by the district... 
This from the Philadelphia Examiner August 17, 2011: 

Where in the world is Dr. Ackerman?

Philadelphia Inquirer staff writers, Kristen A. Graham and Susan Snyder report that Dr. Ackerman has been absent from several meetings including the Superintendent's 2011 Leadership Conference. Supporters say that her duties have been taken away and given to Deputy Superintendent Nunery. Sources have also said that a buyout deal was being worked out where Ackerman would receive lot less than the original 1.5 million dollars.

School district spokesperson Jamilah Fraser , who has lately become a master at spin control, has denied all the statements that were made by district outsiders and insists that Dr. Ackerman has attended plenty of meetings...

This from the Philadelphia Inquirer August 12, 2011: 

Ackerman's dining companions - 

 Expense reports show who had her ear over meals, 

including a lobbyist who won $268,997 in school contracts.

It was a working dinner - salad, crimson snapper, halibut, and key lime pie - for Philadelphia schools chief Arlene C. Ackerman and Melonease Shaw, a political consultant and lobbyist...

Altogether, Ackerman spent nearly $18,000 over about three years for local dining, travel, and other costs, or around $600 a month. That's far less than the bills she ran up as schools chief in San Francisco, where her business spending came under fire, and not out of line with what senior executives of large operations spend, according to compensation experts...
Jamilah Fraser , another Ackerman spokeswoman, said the superintendent's spending was appropriate and said all of it had been approved by the SRC...

 Philadelphia Inquirer November 9, 2010:

Jamilah Fraser named communications chief for Philadelphia schools

The School District of Philadelphia has a new chief communications officer. Jamilah Fraser has a background in TV and experience handling communications about natural disasters for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Fraser, 34, will receive $170,000 for overseeing district communications, community engagement, and broadcast operations. She started Monday as the replacement for Lisa Mastoon, a former television producer and communications specialist who quit in August after two weeks in the post. Fraser said her plans included creating new programming for the district's public-access channel, PSTV; enhancing the district's use of social media; launching community initiatives; and developing an internship program with local colleges and universities. After earning a bachelor's degree in English from the University of South Carolina, Fraser began her broadcast career with local stations in South Carolina and Missouri. In 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Fraser joined FEMA, where she produced several public-service announcements on hurricane preparedness and an instructional video for children. In addition to her work after Katrina, Fraser worked for FEMA in California, dealing with wildfires and floods.

This from the Post and Courier December 5, 2004:

Fraser at Muslim network

Jamilah Fraser , a Charleston native who worked in local TV, is program director for the new American Muslim Television Network, which made its debut Tuesday as the country's first 24-hour Muslim channel in English. Locally, the channel is available on GlobeCast satellite TV.

Heavyweight boxing champ Muhammad Ali flipped the switch to officially launch the network. Fraser, 28, a graduate of the University of South Carolina, said she hopes there is demand in the Charleston area for the network on Comcast and Time-Warner cable. "It's basically a Muslim lifestyle network," Fraser said.

She said the new network will provide entertainment, news, education and a view of Muslim life now missing from American TV. Fraser hopes the new network helps to dispel stereotypical images of Muslims.

"If anything, people will learn that Muslims are part of the American fabric, that we are a people with an everyday life. They show us on television as terrorists or as females who cover their bodies completely with the exception of their eyes. It's going to banish a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions," she said...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, somebody didn't do their homework or else they were hoping others wouldn't do theirs. Gotta even question the new Supt. judgement if this is the best she can do with an applicant pool of 42.