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School reform groups support SRC bid to nix teacher seniority

The Philadelphia School Partnership and PennCAN filed an amicus brief yesterday with the state Supreme Court.

THE PHILADELPHIA School Partnership and PennCAN, two controversial education-reform groups, want the state's highest court to decide whether the School Reform Commission can impose work-rule changes on teachers.

The two pro-school-choice organizations sought the review in an amicus brief filed yesterday with the state Supreme Court.

It "is crucial for this Court to fully consider this case and breathe life into the legislative command that the [SRC] is to be empowered with the flexibility to quickly respond in times of budgetary crisis and provide for the long-term sustainability of City public education," the filing read.

The two groups hired Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young to represent them in the filing.

The SRC, which has been deadlocked with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers over a new contract, is petitioning the court for permission to impose the changes, which would eliminate many seniority rules for teacher layoffs or transfers. The proposal would also kill the deadline for issuing layoff notices and relax minimum-staffing requirements for counselors.

PennCAN and the partnership join the state Department of Education, which had earlier filed a brief in support.

"It would be refreshing to see PSP and PennCAN working with educators to ensure that all of our children have access to nurses, counselors, librarians and classroom supplies," PFT president Jerry Jordan said. "Sadly, they seem more interested in helping to make sure the district can legally deny all of these programs and services to our children."

District spokesman Fernando Gallard issued a statement last night:

"The school district appreciates the support it has received from diverse stakeholders for the changes it is making to improve educational opportunities for all students."