By Kyle Olson
PHILADELPHIA – Philadelphia school employees may have heard of “LegalZoom”— the do-it-yourself, Internet-based legal service – but they probably haven’t used it.
Why would they, when they can get all the legal advice they need from an actual attorney, at taxpayers’ expense.
Philadelphia’s taxpayers will be shocked to learn that they paid $2.6 MILLION into the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Legal Services Fund during the 2010-11 school year to cover the personal legal expenses of educators.
That’s just one example of the out-of-control spending that’s taking place in the Philadelphia’s public schools, as revealed by EAGnews.org’s recent open records request with the district and discussed in our new report, “Sucking the Life Out of America’s Public Schools: The Expense of Teachers Union Contracts.”
The union-controlled “legal services” fund pays the personal legal bills for members “in matters such as legal advice, representation in court, preparing a will or purchasing a home.” So while Philadelphia’s families are being told there isn’t money for new textbooks or extracurricular programs, the district is picking up the tab for their teachers’ estate planning.
So if you’re a member of the PFT and your dog bites your neighbor, no worries – the taxpayers have your back! Or if you’re accused of sexually harassing a student? That’s cool – allow taxpayers to pay for your attorney!
How is such wasteful spending justified – especially during a time of mass teacher layoffs?
Is it any wonder school districts like Philadelphia are on the brink of financial collapse?
Documents filed with the IRS show the PFT Legal Services Fund had $492,382 at the end of fiscal year 2010.
If the union had any decency, it would return this money to the district so students could have new textbooks and classroom computers. But that would assume, of course, that the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers cared about the education of children.