Officials react to Supreme Court ruling against SRC

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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Tuesday the Philadelphia School Reform Commission does not have authority to put a limit on enrollments of the city's charter schools, nor does it have the power to cancel seniority provisions of the teachers' contract. (WPVI)

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Tuesday the Philadelphia School Reform Commission does not have authority to put a limit on enrollments of the city's charter schools, nor does it have the power to cancel seniority provisions of the teachers' contract.

The operator of the West Philadelphia Charter School called the ruling a monumental victory on Wednesday. The school will no longer be subject to a SRC cap on future growth.

Back in the heady days of 2001 when the SRC took over, it was granted extraordinary powers, but Tuesday's decision said some of those powers are unconstitutional.

"It doesn't have the power to unilaterally end contracts, and whether that's for unions or for charters it does not have that power," said Councilwoman Helen Gym. "It doesn't have the right to gut whole sections of the school code and deny students the rights to arts and music or a counselor."

SRC commissioner Bill Green counters saying, "All powers of the SRC are intact including our contract cancellation right, etc. except for our ability to suspend the school code."

In that area the big loss for the SRC - classroom staffing. For years seniority ruled until the SRC changed that in 2013.

"Principals get to choose who they think will be the most effective teacher in their schools," said Green.

But Tuesday's ruling means seniority will again prevail. Green's worry: teachers transferring schools mid-term, upsetting kids.

But Jerry Jordan, president of the Phila Federation of Teachers, said this, "We prefer to implement the changes at the end of this school year so that teachers are not moved out of their classrooms with children they have been with all year."

Green said the SRC acted in good faith believing it had the authority.

Lawyers are looking at Tuesday's ruling by the Supreme Court as well as SRC decisions dating back to 2011 to see if there will be further fallout.

Related Topics:
educationphiladelphia newsphiladelphia school districtsupreme court
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