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WENDERS v. WHITE MILLS INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DIST. ET AL. (07/17/52)

July 17, 1952

WENDERS
v.
WHITE MILLS INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DIST. ET AL.



COUNSEL

L. B. Maxwell, Honesdale, for appellants.

A. Emerson Howell, Honesdale, for appellee.

Before Rhodes, P. J., and Hirt, Reno, Dithrich, Ross, Arnold and Gunther, JJ.

Author: Reno

[ 171 Pa. Super. Page 40]

RENO, Judge.

Ella Wenders, appellee, filed a petition for*fn1 a writ of alternative mandamus against the White Mills Independent School District and the individual members of its board of directors, appellants, to compel her reinstatement as a professional employe. After an answer was filed, the case was tried by a judge, without a jury, who entered a final decree awarding a peremptory writ of mandamus and directing reinstatement of appellee in her position as a teacher. A supersedeas was granted by the court below.

The controversy arose out of the determination of the school board in 1950 to discontinue its high school. Pursuant thereto it formally notified appellee, who had been appointed a temporary employe in August, 1944 and in 1950 was teaching the seventh and eighth grades, that her services were no longer required. Charles Zelonis, who had been appointed in June, 1946, as a permanent employe and had been teaching in the high school, was designated as a teacher in the seventh and eighth grades. The court found as a fact: 'The employment contract of each teacher was oral.' Neither party excepted to or questioned this finding, and it

[ 171 Pa. Super. Page 41]

    forms the basis for the reversal of the decree of the court below.

A mandamus will issue only where there is a clear legal right in the plaintiff and a corresponding duty on the defendant and where there is no other adequate, specific or appropriate remedy; it cannot be invoked in a doubtful case. Homan v. Mackey, 295 Pa. 82, 144 A. 897. Where a statute requires that contracts with a school board shall be reduced to writing the statute must be observed, and an oral contract will not be enforced against it. Chilli v. McKeesport School District, 334 Pa. 581, 6 A.2d 99.

Ever since the School Code of 1911 written contracts for the employment of teachers have been required. The substance of the earlier provisions and the form of the contract were re-enacted by the Public School Code of March 10, 1949, P.L. 30, § 1121, 24 P.S. § 11-1121, as amended, as follows: 'Each board of school directors in all school districts*fn2 shall hereafter enter into contracts, in writing, with each professional employe who has satisfactorily completed two (2) years of service in any school district of this Commonwealth.' Under the clear, explicit and unambiguous provisions of the original Code and the amendments thereto this Court has uniformly held that an oral contract with a teacher is not binding upon a school district and confers no rights upon the teacher.

In Potts v. Penn Tp. School Dist., 127 Pa. Super. 173, 177, 178, 193 A. 290, 293, this Court, speaking through Keller P. J., held: '[T]he Legislature has seen fit to require that all contracts with teachers ...


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