District Renews Effort to Impose Terms on Teachers

SRC appeals court ruling that it didn't have the authority to slash benefits.

School District of Philadelphia

The School Reform Commission is appealing a court ruling that overturned its decision last fall to slash teacher benefits, saying state law clearly gives the SRC authority to take such action during times of fiscal distress.

“The Commonwealth Court decision misinterpreted and misapplied the law,” the District said in a statement announcing its appeal. “The issues presented in this case are of substantial public importance and go to the heart of the ability – and responsibility – of the SRC to place the interests of children first during funding emergencies.”

The teachers union was not pleased with the development.

“The SRC’s appeal to the PA Supreme Court is extremely disappointing because the SRC has once again chosen to spend scarce dollars on litigation rather than on the children in classrooms. They have already spent nearly $1 million in an attempt to break the PFT contract while our schoolchildren continue to go without paper, books, and other classroom supplies and resources,” Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, said in his own written statement. “Though the PFT will fight this litigation as we have from the beginning, we find it outrageous that the SRC would rather engage us in court than at the bargaining table. It’s truly a shame that the SRC views contract negotiations as an obstacle rather than an opportunity to work together on real solutions to the challenges facing our schools.”

The SRC unilaterally slashed the teachers’ medical benefits at a barely publicized meeting in October. The PFT immediately challenged the decision in court. Monday’s appeal sends the case to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

The full text of the SRC appeal is below.