PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The leader of the city’s struggling school system wants to suspend rules that require laid-off workers to be rehired based on seniority, a move the teachers union said it would fight.

Superintendent William Hite plans to ask the School Reform Commission to suspend parts of the state education code at an emergency meeting Thursday.

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The move would allow Hite more flexibility to hire back staffers at the buildings where they worked but only if the district gets the $50 million it has requested from city and state officials, district spokesman Fernando Gallard said.

“The district wants to be ready for whatever comes down the pipe regarding our request for more funding,” Gallard said in an email.

Hite has said that if he doesn’t get the money by Friday, he won’t be able to open all 218 schools as scheduled on Sept. 9.

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The state’s largest district has laid off about 3,800 employees, from assistant principals to nurses and guidance counselors, in an effort to stem rising costs and close a $304 million deficit.

Teachers union president Jerry Jordan said the proposed move was “totally unexpected.” He said that suspending seniority violates the teachers’ contract and that the union will exercise all its legal options.

The state-run School Reform Commission has overseen the district since 2001.

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