Controversies

Lawsuit: Ghost teachers cost Pennsylvania school district more than $500,000

A recent lawsuit filed in Berks County Court aims to end a Pennsylvania school district’s practice of paying full-time officers of teachers unions with taxpayer dollars.

An Oklahoma City-based nonprofit group called Americans for Fair Treatment filed the lawsuit against the Reading School District with the help of the Fairness Center in Harrisburg. The lawsuit charges that since 2011, more than $500,000 in tax funds have been used to pay for “ghost teachers,” or those who are paid as if they had jobs in public classrooms but are actually employed by the Reading Education Association.

The plaintiffs are seeking the return of the funds, including more than $400,000 in salaries, about $50,000 in pension contributions and about $73,000 in health benefits.  They allege the funds were illegally funneled to officers of the union local.

“It’s clear that the Public School Code does not provide authority for this …” Karin Sweigart, deputy general counsel for the Fairness Center, told Watchdog.org. “At the end of the day, teachers should be paid to teach.”

The Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) has received a copy of the complaint and is now reviewing it, according to PSEA spokesman Wythe Keever. 

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