JS Education Association wins grievance; district must rehire furloughed teachers

From staff reports

JERSEY SHORE — Eleven Jersey Shore School District teachers who were furloughed by the school board last May must be offered their positions back, according to an arbitration award announced by Arbitrator John Alfano of Scranton.

The Jersey Shore Education Association representing unionized teachers filed a grievance against the district in June 2018 following a vote by the school board to issue furloughs and non-renewal notices to the 11 teachers.

Six of the teachers were non-tenured; five were tenured teachers, according to a news release issued by Cary Kurtz of the Pennsylvania State Education Association office in the State College area.

The school district has 30 days to reinstate the teachers to their positions. the release states.

Alfano ruled in favor of the teachers’ association by citing that the school district violated the Pennsylvania School Code when district officials cited “declining enrollment” as the basis for their furlough decisions.

The arbitrator disagreed, ruling that the furloughs and non-renewals were made because of “economic reasons.”

In his ruling, Alfano cited numerous board discussions and emails that discussed the furloughs as an option to deal with the district’s budget deficit.

According to Pennsylvania School Code, school boards must adopt a “resolution of intent” to furlough professional employees citing economic conditions at least 30 days prior to the adoption of the district budget.

The school district missed the April 30, 2018, deadline to adopt the resolution, and instead attempted to base the furloughs on declining enrollments, the PSEA said.

According to the Alfano’s decision:

“In her March 22, 2018 email to the association president, the superintendent indicated that it was the position of the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education that all furloughs are to be considered economic furlough. Just a few days more than two months before the board acted on the furloughs, the superintendent was acknowledging to the association president that all furloughs were economic in nature. t is undisputed that the board of directors did absolutely nothing to comply with the requirements of Section 1124 when furloughing for economic or budgetary reasons.”

Jersey Shore Area Education Association President Bradd Williamson said he was pleased by the results of the arbitration and he is hopeful that the teachers can return to the district.