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Furloughed Pa. Cyber Employees Challenge Board To Reinstate Jobs

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The Pennsylvania Charter Cyber School is in financial trouble after years of growth, but a move to layoff dozens of employees is meeting stiff headwinds.

The furloughed employees challenged the board Wednesday to reinstate their jobs.

With its founder Nick Trombetta under indictment for corruption and enrollment declining, Pa. Cyber is seeking to layoff some 43 teachers, administrators and support staff.

But at the most recent board meeting, they weren't going down without a fight.

"I am deeply disappointed by the furloughs," said Shannon Langer, a teacher. "I was treated as if my time and experience at Pa. Cyber meant nothing."

"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 Andrea Cook, another teacher.

Until recently, the school was growing by leaps and bounds with massive expansion, but with an annual budget still in excess of $100 million, the employees argued that staffing should trump more building.

"All you have to do is ask for information. Ask for help. Ask for a way that you can preserve jobs because there is a way," said John Habey, an employee attorney.

The school furloughed workers weeks ago, but a judge ordered the board to take a public vote. And Wednesday evening, with only four members present, the firing failed to get the necessary votes.

KDKA's Andy Sheehan: "Are you hopeful that you'll stave off these layoffs?"

Habey: "I think they will, I think when they give it a lot of thought and consider the consequences, there's other ways to cut."

Board members had no comment after Wednesday night's meeting, but now have scheduled a special closed-door meeting for next week where KDKA's Andy Sheehan is told they will discuss alternatives to some of the cuts, and perhaps, some of thesjobs will be saved.

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