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Arlene Ackerman Passed Away at 66; Punxsutawney Phil Says Early Spring; Police Ofr. Morris Arrested
 
  by: iradioal - Philadelphia, PA
started: 02/02/13 3:17 pm | updated: 02/02/13 3:17 pm
 
Former Philadelphia School District Superintendent Arlene Ackerman has passed away at the age of 66. Her son, Anthony Antognoli, said she died this morning around 5 a.m. in Albuquerque, NM after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. She took over the school district in June 2008 and left in August 2011 amid controversy and conflict with local officials. Despite the acrimony over her questionably high salary and the $905,000 buyout to leave her post, Ackerman did leave a positive mark in Philadelphia. She was a life long educator who did not apologize for not playing the political game. Her main focus and dedication was for the children and making sure that every child had the best chance to succeed. Mayor Nutter, in a statement, described Ackerman as "a truly committed educator who demonstrated a profound passion for students and in particular the most disadvantaged students in our city. Through her leadership, Philadelphia took on the difficult, long-neglected task of turning around low-performing schools. Today, thousands of Philadelphia students are getting a better education thanks to her vision and advocacy. Her educational legacy will live on for many years through the initiatives that she championed."

Superintendent William Hite released a statement: “On behalf of The School District of Philadelphia, I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to the family of Dr. Arlene Ackerman and all who loved her. Dr. Ackerman devoted her life to children and public education, and in doing so, encouraged countless other individuals to commit their lives to teaching, learning and leading. For that, we are grateful. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends and colleagues.”

Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his home on Gobblers Knob early this morning in Western Pennsylvania to make is annual mid-winter prognostication on the state of the arrival of spring. The 'seer of seers' and 'sage of sages' did not see his shadow today – meaning winter will end early this year. We haven't seen much winter-like weather here in Philadelphia so far. Temperatures have been up and down, and snow has hardly made an appearance (although we'll see some flakes tonight and tomorrow). About 20,000 people attended this year's announcement in the small town.

27-year-old Philadelphia Police Officer Pharez Morris has been arrested for firing his gun at a building over a dozen times last October and then lying to police about the incident. He was off-duty at the time. On October 27th at around 5 a.m., Morris was trying to get into an apartment building. When he couldn't get in he pulled his gun and fired 13 shots in the direction of another building, until a woman came out and let him inside. As police came to investigate the gunshots, Morris called 911 and reported a shooting at 11th and Rockland to draw the police away from his location. He faces charges of Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Possessing an Instrument of Crime, False Alarms to Agencies of Public Safety and False Reports to Law Enforcement Authorities. Morris, a 6 year veteran, has been suspended 30 days with the intent to dismiss.

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