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RITZIE APPEAL (02/13/53)

February 13, 1953

RITZIE APPEAL


Appeal, No. 236, Jan. T., 1952, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, Oct. T., 1951, No. 748, in Appeal of Louis Ritzie from decision and order of Francis B. Haas, Superintendent of Public Instruction. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

Arthur H. James, with him Thomas F. Burke, for appellant.

Mitchell Jenkins, for appellee.

Before Stern, C.j., Stearne, Jones, Chidsey and Musmanno, JJ.

Author: Jones

[ 372 Pa. Page 589]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE JONES

From September 21, 1937, to December 23, 1946, Louis Ritzie, the present appellant, was under contract with the School District of the Borough of Dupont as a professional employee. At the end of that period, his annual salary was $1,750. In December of 1946 the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, acting upon an opinion by the Department of Justice, ruled that Miss Dugan, the Supervisory Principal

[ 372 Pa. Page 590]

    of the Dupont Borough Schools, was not qualified for her particular position which carried a salary of $3,250. Relying upon the ruling of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the School Board created a new position, that of Supervising Principal of the Pulaski School, at an annual salary of $2,500, to which it appointed Miss Dugan and, at the same time, appointed Ritzie to succeed her in the position of Supervising Principal of the Borough Schools.

On September 4, 1947, Ritzie was awarded a new contract by the Board as Supervising Principal of the Borough Schools at an annual salary of $3,575. This contract was expressly made contingent upon the outcome of Miss Dugan's appeal to court for relief from the action of the Board pursuant to the ruling of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Miss Dugan's appeal was upheld, first by the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County and then by this Court on July 7, 1948: see Dugan v. Dupont Borough School District, 359 Pa. 590, 59 A.2d 888. Accordingly, the School Board, on September 2, 1948, restored Miss Dugan as Supervising Principal of Borough Schools, the annual salary of the position then being $3,725. The same day the Board created a new position, viz., Principal of Elementary Schools, at an annual salary of $3,750, to which it appointed Ritzie. A little over a year later, on January 5, 1950, upon the organization of the School Board following the election of new members, it abolished the position of Principal of Elementary Schools, thus bringing Ritzie's specially created and non-mandated position to an end.

Ritzie thereupon petitioned the Court of Common Pleas of the County for a writ of mandamus which was granted on August 2, 1950. The School Board was thereby ordered to reinstate Ritzie in a position at his former contract salary of $3,750 per annum until "further

[ 372 Pa. Page 591]

    action of the Board of the defendant district or until a new contract is entered into...": see Ritzie v. Directors of Sch. Dist. of Boro. of Dupont, 41 Luzerne Legal Register 283. The further action envisioned by the court order came the next day, August 3, 1950. The Board passed a resolution authorizing a contract of employment with Ritzie at a salary of $2,900 a year. Such a contract was offered Ritzie, but he refused it on the ground that it constituted a ...


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