PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Pennsylvania’s highest court has ruled that the Philadelphia School Reform Commission did not have the power to cancel its teachers contract two years ago.
It’s a win for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers after a nearly two-year legal battle with the School Reform Commission. Believing it had the power to do so under state law, the SRC in October 2014 canceled the PFT contract, claiming financial distress.
The union went to court. A Common Pleas and Commonwealth Court ruling sided with the PFT, and now so has the state Supreme Court.
“This much-anticipated decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is a total and complete repudiation of the position taken by the SRC,” said PFT president Jerry Jordan.
Jordan says he believed the School Reform Commission was reluctant to negotiate a new contract because it was banking on a win in court.
Now, Jordan says he’s hoping the SRC will drop its legal efforts and resume bargaining.
“I think that they need to stop appealing this process and accept the decision of the three courts,” he said, “and get back to the bargaining table.”
School District of Philadelphia spokesman Kevin Geary says the district is disappointed by the ruling.
He says in a statement that there is no financial impact to the district, since it was prohibited from making changes to the union health care plan when the PFT filed its suit.
Geary says the ruling does not change the district’s goal of reaching new labor contracts with its unions, and that the district will work to “end our impasse” with the PFT.