Drama in Pennsbury as board member leaks report

Simon Campbell, the Pennsbury School District board member who released a fact-finder's report, in a video he made criticizing the report.

The otherwise-methodical contract negotiations between the Pennsbury School District and its teachers union, a dispute dating back to the last contract’s expiration in 2010, took an unexpected turn this week when a district board member posted the results of a fact-finding report on his personal website before a waiting period had been lifted.

The board member, Simon Campbell, posted the full report on campbellspeaks.com Tuesday morning, and also created a 4-minute video in which he appears in front of a moonlit cityscape to excoriate the report’s recommendations, which he believed were overly favorable toward the union, and which he disliked because it raised the possibility of raising taxes (click here to watch).

In a press release he sent announcing his release of the report, he denounced the fact-finder appointed by the state, Lawrence Coburn, as an “opinion-finder” and said he had no right to tell the board to keep the report private.

“This unelected unaccountable government bureaucrat has no authority to tell any elected official that he or she must not discuss the expenditure of public money with the public prior to casting a contract vote on May 9, 2013,” Campbell wrote in the release.

Board President Allan Weisel issued a statement Tuesday afternoon condemning Campbell’s decision to release of the report, saying that the board “disavows and regrets the release of attorney-client privileged communication” while pointing out that Campbell - without mentioning him by name - acted alone in his decision to release the report.

However the report got released, it didn’t take long for critics to take aim: State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R, Butler) issued a statement Tuesday urging the board to reject the report, which called for minimal union pay raises in future years, continued compulsory union membership and switching healthcare plans to reduce costs for the district.

“I encourage the Pennsbury School Board to reject the fact-finder’s report because it calls for maintaining the status quo on vital issues important to taxpayers, including: compulsory union membership, compulsory union dues, and taxpayer-funded payroll deduction of union membership dues,” the statement read.