This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
When the Philadelphia School Reform Commission voted to unilaterally cancel the District teachers’ union contract last month, it did so in way designed to attract the least immediate pushback.
Education advocates believe the SRC’s action violated the state’s government transparency laws.
The SRC scheduled its vote for a Monday morning, when teachers were in class. The only public advertisements were a back-page notice in the Sunday Inquirer and a legal notice on Philly.com. Reporters were alerted only about an hour before the event. The SRC members heard public testimony, but only after they voted to kill the contract.
"We do believe that a judge will say, ‘When you don’t allow comment before you pass a resolution, you’ve violated the Sunshine Act. When you don’t deliberate on this type of resolution, you’re violating the Sunshine Act,’" said Lisa Haver, a retired teacher and co-founder of the advocacy group Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools.
Haver’s group filed a writ of summons in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas this week. The move preserves the group’s right to file suit if the SRC doesn’t offer a further explanation of its action.