Lawsuit aims to bust Philadelphia ‘ghost teachers’

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A lawsuit filed in Philadelphia County Court is taking aim at the practice of using so-called "ghost teachers" to work for the local teachers union on school time.

In the contract between the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and the School District of Philadelphia, a provision exists creating an arrangement that allows teachers to work for the union full-time.

Nate Bohlander, assistant general counsel for the Fairness Center, a public interest legal firm that works for employees against labor unions, calls the practice "abusive."

"These teachers have been out of the classroom for years," Bohlander said. "They call themselves teachers, they're paid by the district and they retire as teachers. But if you look for them in the classroom, you won't find them. They're ghost teachers."

Up to 63 school employees can be elected or hand-picked by PFT president Jerry Jordan, who has gotten a district salary for 30 years, to leave the classroom and fill various positions with the union. They continue to earn their full salary, benefits and pensions from the district.

Bohlander said there's a total lack of institutional control over the practice, and "the district has no clue what these employees are doing at all."

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