Lawyer wants W. Chester teacher off negotiating team

Posted: October 16, 2013

WEST CHESTER A lawyer representing the West Chester Area school board in its negotiations with the teachers' union called Monday for a member of the union's negotiating team to step down for saying the board's position would hurt the district's students.

In a story last week in The Inquirer, Henderson High School teacher Chris Bruno said, "We see no reason to go back to the table to talk about cuts that are going to hurt our kids."

Jeff Sultanik, the board's lead negotiator, took exception to Bruno's words.

"In this industry, when you talk about hurting kids, that's the worst thing you can say about anybody," Sultanik said.

Teachers in the district, which has 12,000 students, have been without a contract since June 30, 2012. The union has said the board has not made the modifications necessary for its members to accept any agreement, including making sure their raises are not offset by benefit costs. The board has said it has agreed to enough concessions.

"The union is 100 percent behind Chris Bruno and the statements he made on behalf" of the West Chester Area Education Association, union president Debbie Fell said in a statement. "We have no intention of asking him to leave the negotiation team."

In an interview last week, Bruno also said contract language was a main issue. "It's punitive not just for the teachers now but for the future teachers of the district," he said. "It will make it impossible for highly qualified teachers to work in this district in the future."

Amanda Wollert, a representative of the Pennsylvania State Education Association who is helping to negotiate for the teachers' union, responded to Sultanik's e-mailed statement.

"As you are aware, neither party can dictate who is a part of the other's negotiating team," Wollert said. "With that being said, Chris Bruno will continue to be a part of the team for WCAEA, and neither he nor the team has any intentions of him stepping down from the team."

No negotiations are scheduled.

610-313-8105 @MichaelleBond

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