PHILADELPHIA - The chief executive officer of a local charter school operator, who was the focus of a FOX 29 Investigates report just last week, is now off Philadelphia's Commission on Human Relations. He was removed by the mayor.
At first, Jim Kenney's spokeswoman said our report "hastened" his removal. But now she's saying it did not. Investigative Reporter Jeff Cole has the details.
Alfredo Calderon is the CEO of ASPIRA, a nonprofit serving the Hispanic community and operator of five Philadelphia charter schools.
Calderon's removal from the city's Human Relations Commission became public Tuesday, but the reasons for it are changing.
We reported last week that Calderon was accused of sexual harassment by ASPIRA's former chief academic officer, Evelyn Nunez, who is now a school district principal.
Nunez accused Calderon and ASPIRA of "sexual harassment and retaliation." According to legal documents, she sued, and the case was settled for $350,000.
ASPIRA's insurer paid the bill plus $151,000 in legal fees and costs.
"You paid her, your insurer paid her, $350,000," Cole said. "She said you sexually harassed her. Did you sexually harass her?"
"Sir, I am willing to set up a meeting, sir," Calderon replied.
That meeting never happened. Instead, a spokesman told us Calderon would like to speak about the case but is legally barred from doing so.
The spokesman added that, under Calderon's leadership, ASPIRA has hired women in key leadership positions and has a no-tolerance policy with respect to discrimination.
Our story was broadcast on Sept. 7th.
Tuesday, it was revealed that Mayor Kenney had, in a letter dated Sept. 8th, removed Calderon from his position on the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission.
Kenney's spokeswoman at first said it was due to Calderon's busy schedule, which forced him to miss meetings, and she told both FOX 29 news and a local newspaper that our report last week "hastened that process."
By midafternoon, Kenney's office had walked that back, claiming the mayor had already made the decision to remove Calderon before our report came out.
Lisa Haver is a member of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools, a watchdog group. She applauds Kenney's removal of Calderon from the commission.
She now wants the School Reform Commission, the leaders of city schools, to pull two charter schools from ASPIRA because of mismanagement.
"The SRC needs to do the right thing and take these schools back from ASPIRA, and they can do that Thursday night when they vote," Haver said.
Calderon has served on the Human Relations Commission since 2012. His spokesman says he worked hard to promote fairness and had expected to be replaced by Mayor Kenney for some time.
City Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez, who has past ties to ASPIRA, says other women were unwilling to come forward with sex harassment claims.
Calderon's spokesperson says the councilwoman's comments are "unfair character attacks against Calderon."