After SRC loses again in court, Neff says charter funding reform a must

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor, a Republican, has called the push for impeaching his Democratic colleagues “an attack upon an independent judiciary.”(WHYY file photo)

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor, a Republican, has called the push for impeaching his Democratic colleagues “an attack upon an independent judiciary.”(WHYY file photo)

The Pennsylvania Supreme court has delivered another blow to the Philadelphia School Reform Commission.

The SRC had hoped the court would reconsider a February ruling that blunted the commission’s power. On Monday, the court denied that appeal.

The prior ruling found that the state legislature acted unconstitutionally by delegating power to the SRC too broadly when it created the body to oversee Philadelphia public schools nearly 15 years ago.

The decision has wide-reaching implications for two sectors that are typically at odds.

Charter schools with unsigned agreements are now within the law to expand enrollment without district permission.  If increased significantly, that could have catastrophic fiscal consequences for the district.

And teachers union members who’ve seen seniority protections ignored by the SRC in recent years have recourse to challenge those decisions.

The district called the court’s decision a “sobering moment.”

SRC Chair Marge Neff says the onus is now on the state to make policy reforms.

“We will have to look for legislative relief.  Key part of that relief is to fix the charter funding formula,” said Neff, in a statement.  “The Pennsylvania charter school authorizing law must be improved, and I am very concerned about where this court decision leaves the District.”

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