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Philadelphia Will Skirt Seniority in Staffing

Unable to reach an agreement with the local teachers' union on revisions to seniority policies, Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite said March 24 that he will institute new work rules that allow principals to take other factors into consideration when selecting and assigning teachers. 

According to the new staffing guidelines, the city in the 2014-15 school year will no longer use seniority as the only criteria for hiring and assignment. The new guidelines say they those decisions will be "based on student and school needs; a committee comprised of the principal, teachers and a parent will determine teacher staffing at each school."

Hite will also seek the state's Supreme Court's blessing for the move under the argument that the state's takeover law allows the city's appointed governing body, the School Reform Commission, to make the change unilaterally, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Last August, the SRC gave Hite the ability to recall some teachers based on factors other than seniority. Since then, Hite has been seeking to revise the teachers' contract, which also expired in August, to reflect this change. But so far talks with the PFT haven't borne fruit. 

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan said the union will challenge the new work rules.

"The members of the PFT are partners in public education, not indentured servants," Jordan said in a statement. "Today's action by the school district belittles every PFT member, and signals an unwillingness to reach a fair contract with the city's educators." 

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