Is state takeover of Harrisburg School District on the horizon?


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse says it is time for a change in the Harrisburg School District. 

“I am a firm believer that the school district should be in receivership,” Papenfuse said. “I think the Department of Education has more than enough evidence that the current leadership is not functioning, and I hope that the state acts and acts quickly.”

A state takeover can vary but could include a change in curriculum and accountability oversight. Papenfuse points to how the state’s intervention helped turn around the city’s problems. 

“Under receivership, there would be certain powers that the receiver would have to promote,
transparency and accountability, and open up the books and do things that the current board and administration seem resistant to do,” said Papenfuse.

Papenfuse worked with James Ellison years ago on the Harrisburg Authority. He does not support Ellison’s appointment as the district’s new solicitor.

School board president Danielle Robinson issued a statement which reads, in part, “Mr. Ellison’s appointment will be a tremendous asset to the district, and his vast knowledge in educational law will help the district save several hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees that in the past has been paid to additional legal counsel on issues.”

Robinson also said in the statement that a state takeover is not necessary.

“We are working closely with the state on their requests with the shared goal in mind of providing the best educational opportunity for our children to learn and get a quality education,” she said.

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