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Arbitrator: Pa. Cyber Charter School Must Give Teachers Jobs Back

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Citing declining enrollment, the Pa. Cyber Charter School laid off several teachers last year.

"We put in our time and having a little bit of decency, and not being obligated, but to treat people, by choice, like humans when you have the money to do it," said teacher Andrea Cook.

Now, after 15 months an arbitrator agrees, ordering Pa. Cyber to re-instate seven furloughed teachers.

"They just want to get back in the classroom and teach these students," said Lon Valentine, with the Teachers Association.

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The arbitrator ruled the teachers were wrongly let go, given that Pa. Cyber is carrying a $37 million fund balance and pays millions more to as many as 10 companies for support services.

That includes a $36 million a year contract with Lincoln Learning Solution, which supplies management services and develops online curriculum. But much of the new curriculum has been delayed and the teachers say the new math ccurriculum, developed by Lincoln, is faulty.

"They're finding errors in the curriculum. They're finding other problems that are affecting their ability to use it. They almost feel that they are rewriting the curriculum themselves," Valentine said.

"That curriculum contract was, to be blunt, a disgrace," state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said.

Pa. Cyber is appealing the arbitrator decision, and neither the school nor their attorneys responded to requests for an interview or statement. But DePasquale recently released an audit highly critical of the curriculum contract and called for reform.

"That curriculum contract needs to be fixed and I don't see any reason those teachers should have been furloughed," DePasquale said.

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