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District wants Promise Academies layoff exemption

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The District plans to inform the School Reform Commission that it wants teachers in Promise Academies to be exempt from layoffs.

"The District’s recommendation is to make Promise Academy teachers part of the protected class. This recommendation will be shared with the SRC," said a statement from spokesperson Elizabeth Childs. It is unclear whether this means that the SRC will need to approve the recommendation.

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan immediately responded that the union will fight this. He said that there is no language in the contract to justify singling out one group of teachers to make them members of a protected class.

The District has said that it will lay off as many as 1,260 teachers if it doesn't get more money from the state or city to close a projected $629 million budget gap.

Last week, the Inquirer reported on the District's plans to exempt Promise Academies teachers, but a follow-up statement from the District said the leadership was continuing to explore options.

Today, Jordan said, “I’ve already alerted my attorneys. We will fight this in every legal way available. We don’t want there to be layoffs, but if there are they have to be done in a fair and equitable way.”

Update: The District issued a statement implying that it may use its power under the state takeover law to impose terms on the union without collective bargaining. In addition to the issue of whether it can exempt Promise Academy teachers from layoffs, the District has also said is planning for $75 million in union concessions as one way to balance the budget.

The follow-up statement from Childs said:

"The School Reform Commission is reviewing all of its options as it addresses the budget for 2011-2012. The Commission was given certain extraordinary powers and the SRC is considering whether the exercise of any of those powers will assist it in resolving the budget issues, while preserving to the greatest extent possible the educational program and priorities of the District. This would include all of its options under Section 696 of the Public School Code. The SRC is scheduled to vote on the budget on May 31, 2011."

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