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Judge Puts Philadelphia Layoffs On Hold

Yesterday, the 154,500-student Philadelphia district sent out a press release saying that Monday marked a "very dark week" for the school system: The district was planning to send layoff notices to more than 3,000 staff members, including over 1,500 teachers.

The move, the district said, was necessary to close a $629 million operating budget gap.

But a judge has halted the layoffs for now in order to resolve a complaint from the city's teachers union that teachers at the city's "Promise Academies" were unfairly excluded from the layoff pool.

The Promise Academies—three elementary schools, a middle school and two high schools—are overseen directly by Superintendent Arlene Ackerman and the administrators she appoints. They have a longer school day and year, a "highly structured" academic program, school uniforms and parent "compacts," among other features.

District leaders have said that layoffs will damage the progress at those struggling schools, according to local news reports. The union contends that the layoffs should be made by seniority.

A judge will hold a hearing next Tuesday on the dispute.

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