PSBA 2021 Bulletin November/December PSBA 2021 Bulletin November/December - Page 64

Q & A

Q & A

Looking for more answers to your school law questions ? Search for Pennsylvania School Law Handbook at www . psba . org for details on ordering paperback or ebook versions .
Q : May school districts outsource transportation , cafeteria or custodial services to a private company , if they currently are staffed by unionized
employees ?
A : This is an extremely complex issue .
The Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board ( PLRB ) calls outsourcing “ subcontracting .” When a school district subcontracts , it replaces members of the bargaining unit with employees of an outside contractor to perform the same work under similar working conditions . The PLRB and the courts have held that subcontracting is not an inherent managerial right , but constitutes a mandatory subject of collective bargaining , which must be bargained in good faith . Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board v . Mars Area School District , 389 A . 2d 1073 ( Pa . 1978 ). Both the PLRB and court decisions make it procedurally complex for school districts to successfully subcontract . There are at least a dozen procedural steps , and the employer is required to bargain in good faith until impasse before it can implement a decision to outsource . See e . g ., School District of the Township of Millcreek , 9 PPER 9136 ( 1978 ); Lower Dauphin School District , 19 PPER 19195 ( 1988 ), Morrisville School District v . Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board , 687 A . 2d 5 ( Pa . Cmwlth . 1996 ); Upper Moreland Township School District v . Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board , 695 A . 2d 904 ( Pa . Cmwlth . 1997 ); Central Dauphin School District v . Central Dauphin Bus Drivers ’ Association , 996 A . 2d 47 ( Pa . Cmwlth . 2010 ); Central Dauphin School District v . Central Dauphin Bus Drivers ’ Association , 996 A . 2d 47 ( Pa . Cmwlth . 2010 ). Consequently , it is not something that normally can be accomplished quickly . Due to the complexity of subcontracting bargaining unit work , it is essential for school entities to consult with a school solicitor or other qualified counsel before a decision is made to outsource . A procedural misstep can result in substantial back pay awards .
Q : Must teachers participate in continuing professional education to
maintain their certification ?
A : Yes . Act 48 of 1999 requires
all certificate holders ( including administrators and educational specialists ) to complete continuing professional education every five years to keep their certification active . That requirement may be satisfied by the completion of six credits of collegiate study ; six credits of continuing professional education courses ; 180 hours of continued professional education programs , activities or learning experiences through a PA Department of Education-approved provider ; or any combination thereof relating to their area of certification or assignment . 24 P . S . § 1205.2 ; 22 Pa . Code § 49.17 . If a certificate holder fails to satisfy the Act 48 continuing professional education requirements within the five-year compliance period , the holder ’ s certificate becomes inactive . Under Act 45 of 2007 , administrators who are school or system leaders must earn these credits through programs approved by the PA Department of Education focused on the Pennsylvania School Leadership Standards . 24 P . S . § 1205.5 , 1217 .
Q : If a school district believes the assessed value of an individual property listed on the tax duplicate
is inaccurate , does it have recourse ?
A : School districts , municipalities
( except the county ) and property owners each have standing to appeal the assessed value of a property . 53 Pa . C . S . A . § 8844 ( c ) ( Counties of second class A , third , fourth , fifth , sixth , seventh and eighth classes ). Many school districts have adopted a practice of filing assessment appeals on properties within the district that appear to be underassessed . There have been several cases , where taxpayers have unsuccessfully challenged such appeals as being “ spot assessments ” or creating non-uniformity . Vees v . Carbon County Board of Assessment Appeals , 867 A . 2d 742 ( Pa . Cmwlth . 2005 ); Appeal of Springfield School District , 879 A . 2d 335 ( Pa . Cmwlth . 2005 ). The result of these cases has been to uphold a taxing jurisdiction ’ s statutory right to appeal . Legislation is frequently proposed to eliminate , restrict or place conditions on the ability of taxing bodies , including school districts , to appeal the assessed value of properties . As of the preparation of these materials , those efforts have not been successful . While not questioning the constitutionality of the statutory authority for this , the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that a taxing authority ’ s discretion to decide which assessments to appeal is not unlimited , and that a taxing authority may not create a classification of types of property by pursuing appeals of only certain property types such as commercial properties only . Valley Forge Towers Apartments N , LP v . Upper Merion Area School District , 2017 WL 2859007 ( Pa . 2017 ).
Q : What is the PLRB ? A : The Pennsylvania Labor Relations
Board , commonly called the PLRB , is the administrative agency responsible for ensuring public employers and their employee organizations fulfill their collective bargaining obligations under Act 195 and for school employers under Act 88 . 43 P . S . § 1101.501 . Some of the PLRB ’ s responsibilities include : oversight of votes regarding union recognition and decertification , 43 P . S . §§ 1101.603- 1101.607 ; the processing and adjudication of complaints filed by interested parties regarding alleged unfair labor practices , 43 P . S . §§ 1101.1301-1101.1306 ; investigating alleged violations of Act 195 , 43 P . S . §§ 1101.1601-1101.1606 ; and appointing a fact-finding panel , 24 P . S . § 11-1122-A .
62 PSBA Bulletin November / December 2021