via Citizen’s Voice,
by Terrie Morgan-Besecker, citizensvoice.com,
December 8, 2015,
In a case with important statewide implications, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a dispute over whether a public school district can be held liable for unpaid pension contributions incurred by a charter school.
The appeal, filed by the Pocono Mountain School District, challenges the state Department of Education’s deduction of $87,700 in 2014 from the district’s basic education subsidy to cover pension contributions that were not made by the defunct Pocono Mountain Charter School, which closed after its charter was revoked in June 2014.
“This is a serious issue, not just for Pocono Mountain, but the entire education system throughout the state,” said the school district’s attorney John Freund.
The high court agreed to review a Commonwealth Court ruling in July that upheld the DOE’s deduction. The court said it will consider whether the court ruling presents a “substantial question of public importance.”
Freund said the case centers on a state law that requires a school district in which a charter school is located to pay pension payments into the Public School Employees’ Retirement System should the charter school fail to do so.
Ordinarily a school district can then deduct that amount from the next invoice the charter school submits for payment. In this case, Pocono Mountain could not recoup the money because the charter school no longer exists.
While Pocono Mountain’s situation is unique, Freund said the decision has broad implications because it conflicts with another section of the law, which says a district cannot be held responsible for a charter school’s liabilities.