Pa. Cyber Charter teachers join union

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HARRISBURG -- Teachers at the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School have voted for representation by the Pennsylvania State Education Association, giving the state's largest teachers union its only charter school members.

PSEA has represented charter school teachers in the past, said spokesman Wythe Keever, but the approximately 115 teachers from the statewide online public school will be the only such members now.

The teachers voted 71-34 to be represented by PSEA, according to the union.

Collective bargaining will begin some time after the vote is certified by the National Labor Relations Board and after members adopt a constitution and bylaws and elect officers, Mr. Keever said.

Michael Conti, CEO of PA Cyber, said teachers have the right to organize.

"We respect the choice," he said. "I support all of our teachers, whether they're unionized or not. We'll bargain with PSEA in good faith for the benefit of our students."

PA Cyber has approximately 11,200 full-time students. It is one of 14 cyber charter schools in the state, along with 162 "bricks and mortar" charter and regional charter schools, according to a March tally from the state Department of Education.

The American Federation of Teachers Pennsylvania has a local affiliate representing charter school teachers and staff, according to its website.

PA Cyber came under scrutiny in July 2012, when federal agents searched its offices. Its founder, Nick Trombetta, who left the school in June 2012, later pleaded not guilty to charges that he had diverted nearly $1 million for personal use.

Karen Langley: or 1-717-787-2141 or on Twitter @karen_langley.

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