Contact: Conner Drigotas, 844.293.1001, firstname.lastname@example.org
December 4, 2017, Philadelphia, Pa.—Today, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania let stand Gov. Wolf’s politically-motivated removal of Bill Green as Chair of Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission (SRC). Wolf removed Green as Chair in 2015, immediately after Green led a vote to approve new charter schools in the city.
Green filed a lawsuit in 2016, with the help of the Fairness Center, to shield the SRC from political manipulation and to protect the independence of the office of Chair. The suit argued that SRC Chair is an independent office and appointees to that office could not be removed without cause.
The Commonwealth Court’s ruling, written by Judge Joseph M. Cosgrove, acknowledged that Green was removed without cause, stating, “[T]here is no question that Petitioner [Green] has not engaged in any such malfeasance or misfeasance,” but determined that SRC Chair is not an independent office entitled to protection from such removal:
Petitioner was not removed from office. While he no longer holds the position of chairman, he is nonetheless a full, commissioned member of the SRC in good standing, holding all the rights and privileges of that office until his term ends, he is removed pursuant to Section 696(b)(2) of the School Code, or the SRC ceases to exist.
Bill Green released the following statement in response to the Court’s decision:
The SRC, while not always agreeing, has worked effectively as a team and accomplished a great deal. It is now settled that Marge Neff and Joyce Wilkerson were and are Chair. I will continue to work with Chair Wilkerson to make sure the transition to local control is as smooth as possible. While I don’t agree with every aspect of the ruling it does not seem worth pursuing this matter further given last month’s vote to dissolve the SRC.
I want to thank the Fairness Center for taking on this case and acknowledge the hard work of attorneys David Osborne and Karin Sweigart.
“The Court has determined that the SRC Chair can be appointed or dismissed at the governor’s whim,” commented David Osborne, president and general counsel for the Fairness Center. “Since Wolf did not also remove Bill as an SRC member, the court ruled in the governor’s favor and dismissed the lawsuit.”
Bill Green is a native Philadelphian and has been a member of the School Reform Commission since 2014. He also served as a Democratic city councilman at-large in Philadelphia from 2008-2014. Green resigned from city council to join the SRC as chair as a volunteer, giving up his $130,000-a-year council salary and a pension because he believes Philadelphia’s children deserve the opportunity to receive a great education.
In the private sector, Green has founded several businesses and represented Fortune 500 companies and start-ups as a corporate lawyer.
David Osborne is available for comment. Contact Conner Drigotas, 844.293.1001, email@example.com to schedule an interview.
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The Fairness Center is a nonprofit, public interest law firm offering free legal services to those facing unjust treatment from public employee union leaders. For more information visit www.FairnessCenter.org.