SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Not so fast.
The Scranton School District’s plan to lay off 51 teachers may have hit a potential roadblock.
State officials have sent the district a letter saying the cuts are an “apparent violation of school code.”
It all comes down to timing.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education says according to school code, the Scranton School District was supposed to adopt its budget by December 31, 2017.
In order to furlough the teachers for financial reasons, the school board would have had to vote on it by late October.
The problem is, the Scranton School Board did not do that until January 25, 2018.
The two page letter reads in part, “We strongly recommend that the District immediately discontinue and reverse any action to suspend any professional employees.”
The Governor’s Office of General Counsel sent the letter and says the potential furloughs appear to violate the state’s school code because they were not approved 60 days before the year-end deadline for a final budget.
Rosemary Boland represents the teachers’ union.
“I think it’s good news all around to see that the state is actually telling a school district do your homework and stop making mistakes like this!” Rosemary Boland said.
With the district having a teacher in-service day Friday, the Lackawanna County Children’s Library was the place to find many parents and grandparents.
They were surprised to hear the latest developments.
“They did it again! They didn’t follow procedures. They didn’t know what they were doing!” grandparent Debbie Warenda of South Scranton said.
The planned layoffs have led to packed school board meetings with parents pleading for administrators to find some other way to close a multi-million dollar budget deficit.
“The teachers, for the most part, that I know are leaving have to do with programs that are so important to the kids and they’re always the first things to cut, library, music and arts,” parent Angela Scheller of Scranton said.
The warning letter sent to the Scranton School District indicates if the school board doesn’t change course the district could face significant legal challenges and liability.
“The state can punish us by withholding funds and we are desperate for funding here!” Boland said.
The superintendent of the Scranton School District said she planned to issue a statement on the situation Friday afternoon. As of 4:30 PM, Eyewitness News had not received it.
The Scranton School District remains under financial watch by the state.
Officials were hoping the layoffs would have saved the district about $700,000 this year.