Gov. Wolf vetoes seniority bill

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Gov. Wolf vetoed House Bill 805 on Wednesday, May 18, which would have made it easier to lay off experienced teachers and based layoff decisions on student test scores. 

Gov. Wolf said in a memo posted online after the Senate passed the bill: "The focus of our policies should not be on how to conduct mass layoffs – it should be about how to invest in our schools." You can read the memo from Gov. Wolf here.

In a letter from AFTPA President Ted Kirsch to Gov. Wolf, Kirsch called the bill "a distraction from the debate about adequate, sustainable funding for our schools." He said the legislature should focus on how to provide adequate education funding, not managing the crisis they've caused by failing to fund public schools adequate, sustainably and fairly. Read Ted's letter to the governor here.

HB 805 would allow districts to lay off teachers without regard to their experience or tenure. It would award tenure to temporary professional employees, require tenure to be re-earned when educators change districts, tie tenure to Act 82 evaluations and prohibit collective bargaining agreements from addressing economic furloughs or requiring them to be made based on seniority. Finally, HB 805 would allow districts to furlough teachers for vague "economic reasons." Current law allows teacher layoffs only because of declining enrollment, program cuts and school or school district mergers.  

In a statement following the governor's veto, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan said: "To remove seniority as the deciding factor in layoff and recall of professional employees is a step backward for educational quality. Classroom experience, combined with yearly professional development and re-certification mandates, ensures that students have qualified, experienced teachers. Disregarding seniority will only encourage districts to lay off veteran educators to save money. This would leave students without the most qualified educators to help them achieve their goals."