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Providence Teachers' Union Sues District Over Hiring

This just in: The Providence Teachers' Union is suing to prevent Rhode Island officials from implementing a directive for schools to start implementing site-based hiring based on teacher-candidates' qualifications, not their seniority.

Former state education Commissioner Peter McWalters made the order in the final months of his term. The lawsuit names new Commissioner Deborah Gist, Providence superintendent Thomas Brady, and school board head Robert Wise, The Associated Press reports.

The district's collective-bargaining agreement requires staffing through the seniority process, which critics say leads to the mass "bumping" and displacement of teachers.

PTU's lawsuit argues that the directive violates this agreement, and that staffing formulas must be renegotiated through collective bargaining.

Read more background in this Education Week story.

Although I haven't had a chance to speak to PTU President Steven Smith since this interview, I got the sense that he wasn't necessarily opposed to the concept of site-based hiring as long as teachers got a say in selecting their future colleagues. Nevertheless, the lawsuit indicates that the union does not look kindly on attempts to trump the collective-bargaining agreement, no doubt because of the precedent it could set.

No indication yet as to whether this will affect plans to debut site-based hiring in six Providence schools this upcoming school year.

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