SRC urges Supreme Court to act soon

Posted: April 09, 2014

The Philadelphia School Reform Commission told the state Supreme Court on Monday it's important for the court to rule quickly on whether the commission has the power to impose work rule changes for teachers next fall.

The SRC's filing is the latest volley in a legal dispute between the SRC and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers over the powers granted to the commission by the law that led to the 2001 state takeover of city schools.

Two weeks ago, the commission asked the state's top court to declare that it has the authority to make unilateral work-rule changes, including disregarding seniority for teacher assignments, transfers, layoffs, and recalls.

Last week, the PFT challenged the SRC's stance and urged the court to reject the commission's request. The 10,000-member PFT has said that every change the SRC wants to make has been subject to collective bargaining and were being discussed in ongoing talks to replace the teachers' contract, which expired in August.

In Monday's filing, the commission offered its rebuttal to the union.

The SRC urged the court to act soon. The commission said the union has filed grievances over staffing changes the SRC has already made, including temporarily suspending parts of the state School Code to allow the district to recall some counselors who were laid off last summer without regard to seniority.

The commission warned that if mediators side with the union, it could cost the cash-strapped district money and disrupt staffing for the 2014-15 academic year.

"The longer a resolution is delayed, the greater the potential monetary exposure becomes," the SRC said.

martha.woodall@phillynews.com 215-854-2789

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