Philly teachers' union, district at odds over two hires

Posted: October 24, 2013

THE PHILADELPHIA Federation of Teachers and the school district are at odds over two recent teacher hirings that one union official says amounted to skipping over laid-off staff.

In separate cases, two former assistant principals who either resigned or were laid off in June were later hired as teachers certified in two subjects, according to district and PFT officials.

The move, the PFT claims, simply allowed the new teachers to "cut in line," bypassing qualified teachers on the layoff list. The district argues that it needed to fill the positions with dual-certified teachers, none of which remained on the list.

Once the teachers began their new positions at Strawberry Mansion High School and High School of the Future, the schools' principals released each to perform administrative work. Their duties include training and supervision of staff, overseeing academic assessments and serving as principal designee when the principal is absent, according to job descriptions obtained by the Daily News.

The office jobs require principal or administrative certification, as well as certification in two subjects.

PFT Vice President Arlene Kempin says the union's main issue is that the teachers each teach only one of the two subjects for which they are certified.

The district "said they needed people to work in both subjects and that was their excuse for not bringing back laid-off teachers," Kempin said. The layoff list has teachers certified in English, social studies and math, she said.

"Once they got there, they [the district] forgot they needed two certifications," Kempin said. She added that requiring a principal certification was "illegal."

District spokesman Fernando Gallard said it was an appropriate requirement: "It is our position that a) you can do it and b) because the specifics of the job require it."

"We are selecting individuals who we believe, who the principal believes, are the best match for the needs of students and the school," Gallard said.

"Many teachers" are fully and partially released to do nonteaching work, he said, but he did not have those numbers.

The teachers were identified as Judy Haughton at School of the Future and Anna Shurak at Strawberry Mansion.

Haughton, certified in English and middle-years math, teaches three classes daily of ninth-grade math and is released to work as dean of students for two periods by principal Timothy Stults.

Shurak, who is released three periods a day by principal Linda Cliatt-Wayman, has certifications in English and social studies and teaches two English classes.

Shurak was previously an assistant principal at Strawberry Mansion and worked previously with Cliatt-Wayman when she was an assistant superintendent. Haughton worked as an assistant principal with Stults when he was principal of University City High School.

On Twitter: @ReginaMedina


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