The Pennsylvania Supreme Court focused attention Wednesday on the School District of Philadelphia's ability to cancel a collective bargaining agreement with its teachers union—and the effect on the distressed district's economic status.

David Pittinsky of Ballard Spahr represented the district and its governing body, the School Reform Commission. He argued that the SRC's power to cancel a CBA is necessary to avoid giving the city's 200,000 school children a "lowest common denominator" education.

Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor acknowledged that if the statutory scheme covers the cancellation of CBAs, it would be important to allow the SRC's resolution.

"But you did more than that," Saylor said. "You unilaterally imposed terms and conditions" on the teachers union.

"We did everything you have the right to do if you cancel an agreement," Pittinsky replied.

Pittinsky said the crux of the argument was in the meaning of the term "teachers' contracts." He argued that the term referred to individual teacher tenure contracts imagined in the original 1959 version of the Distressed School Law.

Related Practice