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Philadelphia Principals Win Arbitration in Test Cheating Scandal

Thursday, September, 3, 2015

Two principals won favorable rulings in arbitration hearings regarding statewide test cheating. Both could have the opportunity to return to their jobs in the coming months.


The first of the principals, Michelle Burns of Kensington Urban Education Academy, was awarded the right to be reinstated as principal in her arbitration hearing and the arbitrator also ruled the district is to provide back pay, minus the money Burns would have earned during a 60-day suspension. It should be noted that the accusations of cheating did not occur while Burns was principal of Kensington Urban Education Academy, but while she was principal of Tilden Middle School from 2009-2010.


The other principal, Marla Travis-Curtis, of Lamberton Elementary School, also won a ruling that could permit her to work in the district, but as an assistant principal instead of her former role as a principal. The arbitrator also ruled Travis-Curtis is entitled to back pay, minus the wages from a 30-day suspension.


The two are also entitled to reimbursement for any expenses they had during their termination for benefits.


The Philadelphia school district might not accept the arbitration rulings and a representative says they are currently reviewing all of the possible legal options.


In both cases, there is uncertainty as to where and when the women will be reinstated. The union and the district intend to meet to discuss the details.


The cheating scandal was widespread and became public in 2011 after forensic analysis by the state on 2009’s test data showed scores to be improbably high. The state’s probe included more than 100 schools across dozens of districts throughout the state. The majority of issues were in and around Philadelphia. To date, 37 schools throughout the state have been cleared of wrongdoing.