Kristen Graham and Martha Woodall
The state Supreme Court on Thursday said it would not affirm the Philadelphia School Reform Commission's decision to make drastic work-rule changes for teachers in the fall.
This spring, the commission asked the state's top court to declare that it has the authority to impose the changes, including disregarding seniority for teacher assignments, transfers, layoffs, and recalls.
The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers strongly opposed the SRC's move to bypass seniority.
Against the backdrop of City Council coming up with a $30 million loanfor the fall, in addition to a $27 borrowing now - to help rescue the beleaguered Philadelphia School District, its School Reform Commission meets Thursday night to consider a full agenda. (On the Council doings - Superintendent Hite calls the move "gigantic," and said it staves off layoff notices, at least for now. It also allows the district to turn its full attention to Harrisburg, where legislators will consider a $2-per pack cigarette tax.)
On tap for the SRC meeting are the usual recognitions of terrific teachers and students (including the ones who rushed into a burning building to save a child!) and also some charter matters. Two charters, Ad Prima and New Media, are scheduled to be nonrenewed, according to the tentative agenda.
Follow along here - I'll be livetweeting, as usual. The meeting's supposed to get underway at 5:30 p.m.
An entire first grade class has been taken to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia after one of its students brought drugs to school.
Philadelphia School District spokesman Fernando Gallard said Tuesday that a first grade teacher at Barry Elementary School in West Philadelphia found one of her students playing with what appeared to be small packets of drugs. The teacher asked the child to drop the packets, then following district protocol, had them evacuate the classroom. Police and paramedics were called.
The school nurse and paramedics began checking the children, since drugs can be absorbed through the skin. Officials decided to take the entire class to CHOP for observation.
Acting swiftly on parents' wishes, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. on Friday said Luis Muñoz Marín, a struggling Philadelphia School District elementary school, will not be given to a charter company to run.
Parents voted overwhelmingly - 223 to 70 - on Thursday for Marín to remain a traditional district school. In a separate vote, the school's advisory council voted unanimously, 11 to 0, to reject ASPIRA of Pennsylvania, the charter company vying to take over the school.
Hite, in a statement, said he was grateful to parents and community members who helped guide the process. He also extended thanks to ASPIRA.
A teacher at Ethan Allen Elementary, a public school in Mayfair, is accused of having sex with one of her students.
Stephanie Amato, 30, surrendered to authorities on Wednesday, a police spokeswoman said.
Police Officer Jillian Russell said that Amato, who was awaiting arraignment on Wednesday afternoon, is charged with statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, unlawful contact with a minor, interference with custody of children, endangering the welfare of a child, corruption of a minor, indecent assault and indecent exposure.
U.S. District Court Judge Legrome D. Davis said Tuesday morning he would approve a settlement that ends the Philadelphia School District's policy of arbitrarily transferring elementary students with autism from school to school with no notice to their families.
The settlement came about as a result of a class-action lawsuit filed three years ago by parents frustrated by the policy. The parents, who all had second-graders at Richmond Elementary in Philadelphia, were represented by the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia.
The terms of the settlement require the district to notify parents by January that their child could be transferred to a new school that fall. Officials would have to disclose the new school, if known, and inform parents of their right to meet formally with school officials about the transition.
Update, 6:15 p.m.
In a stunning move, the School Reform Commission declined to adopt a 2014-15 budget. They are required by city charter to do so by the end of May.
Superintendent WIlliam R. Hite Jr. said he could not in good conscience recommend a budget that would require the district to cut $216 million to make ends meet. It would mean class sizes rising to as many as 41, and layoffs of at least 800 teachers.
More than 50 parents and community supporters of Andrew Jackson Elementary in South Philly gathered on the steps of the school on Thursday morning to speak about the death of a Jackson student, and to demand more funding for the Philadelphia School District.
The first grader, 7, died on Wednesday afternoon at Children's Hospital after falling ill at the school. There was no nurse at Jackson at the time the child became ill; the school has a nurse every Thursday and every other Friday.
A retired nurse happened to be volunteering at the school when the child fell ill, and a staffer trained in CPR administered it before emergency personnel arrived. It's not clear whether the child had any pre-existing medical conditions, or whether having a nurse on duty would have saved his life.