SCRANTON -- The Scranton School Board may have broken state rules when it voted to lay off more than 50 teachers, according to a letter sent to the school district from the governor's office in Harrisburg.
Lawyers for Governor Tom Wolf say the Scranton School Board didn't pass its 2018 budget in time to allow for teacher layoffs this year but, the board already voted to lay off 51 teachers in order to save money.
Now it looks like those teachers' jobs may stay after all.
A strongly worded letter from Harrisburg may derail the Scranton School District's plan for financial recovery.
The letter from the governor's office of general counsel says lawyers "strongly recommend" the district reverse a decision to layoff teachers.
It appears the Scranton School Board had their timing off. The letter cites a state school code which says in order to lay off teachers, a school district needs to pass a budget by December 31 of the previous year.
Scranton still does not have a 2018 budget passed but school directors have contended that they had extra time until April 1 to pass a budget, a benefit of being under state financial watch.
The letter points out that the extended deadline doesn't exist.
"There was no homework done or they would have known they were violating the school code. It's easy enough to read, 1124 is not complicated language. They could have read the code and realized after umpteen years as the Scranton School District is December 31. They should have realized that," said Rosemary Boland, president of Scranton's teachers' union.
Boland says the state's letter saves teachers' jobs for this year and buys the union time to find another financial solution.
"We're hoping to make good use of it," Boland said. "We want to sit down, which is what should have happened in the first place. All the stakeholders should have had a meeting, more than a meeting, to figure out what to do to move forward."
The Scranton School Board, in a statement sent to Newswatch 16, said that it is following state school code. Board members say the state was well aware of Scranton's plan to lay off teachers and that the board had permission to pass a balanced budget later this year. The Scranton School Board and the district superintendent have requested a meeting in Harrisburg to clear everything up.