Ruling on Pa. charter school could set precedent

    The National Labor Relations Board recently ruled a virtual charter school in Pennsylvania should be classified as a private corporation, not a public institution. The decision only directly affects that one school, but it could have further-reaching legal implications.

    That ruling involving Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School was prompted by unionization efforts by its employees. Private organizations are subject to National Labor Relations rules, while public ones are subject to state labor regulations.

    These decisions are highly individual. And the board’s distinctions between private and public organizations are so specific they’re dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

    But Todd Ziebarth, senior vice president at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, said the ruling isn’t entirely insular.

    “I just think what it does is potentially sets a precedent for the next time around,” Ziebarth said. “So if somebody tries to organize another school in Pennsylvania, people will look at the decision here as they examine the facts and circumstances of that particular school.”

    Charter schools’ standing between private and traditional public schools includes many gray areas.

    But Ziebarth noted in this case, the private designation only goes as far as labor laws.

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