New bill to bust 'ghost teachers' advances

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A new bill seeking to bust Pennsylvania ghost teachers is on the move.

House Bill 2125, sponsored by state Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Allegheny, would place strict regulations on the number of teachers allowed to leave the classroom to work full-time for their unions while still drawing a public salary, benefits and school seniority.

The bill cleared the House Education Committee this week on a 15-9 vote and now goes to the floor for a vote.

“Recent news articles have shed light on the problem of ‘ghost teachers’ – individuals who receive monetary compensation and benefits, including retirement benefits, from their public school employer while on leave from school employment to perform union duties,” Saccone said. “Currently, the Public School Code does not restrict this practice, which misdirects valuable tax dollars that should be used to provide for teachers who are actually working in the classroom to educate our children.”

Dozens of Pennsylvania school districts allow a number of teachers to leave the classroom each year to work full-time for unions as members of the collective bargaining team, information officers and political operatives. The practice is also known as “release time” or “official time” and is typically part of the teachers’ contract.
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Saccone’s bill joins two other pieces of legislation moving through Harrisburg that would bar the practice in some capacity.

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