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HALKO v. FOSTER TOWNSHIP SCHOOL DISTRICT (06/26/53)

June 26, 1953

HALKO
v.
FOSTER TOWNSHIP SCHOOL DISTRICT, APPELLANT



Appeal, No. 90, Jan. T., 1953, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, Oct. T., 1952, No. 528, in case of John J. Halko v. Board of Directors of School District of Foster Township et al. Judgment reversed.

COUNSEL

Cletus M. Lyman, for appellants.

G. John Bruger, for appellee.

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

Author: Arnold

[ 374 Pa. Page 270]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE ARNOLD

This case arose under a case stated wherein the plaintiff demanded that he be reinstated as a teacher. He was suspended because of a decrease in student enrollment. The teacher he seeks to displace, Peter P. Kundra, was retained. It was alleged that Kundra had less seniority rights than the plaintiff, and that no difference in rating prevailed between them.

The court below entered judgment in favor of the plaintiff and required the defendants to reinstate him and to pay him such salary as is due since his suspension on June 9, 1952.

A very narrow question is presented. Plaintiff was first employed by the school district on September 7, 1930. On September 1, 1942, at his request the board of school directors granted him a year's leave of absence that he might work as a chemist in a laboratory plant

[ 374 Pa. Page 271]

    in Elkton, Maryland, and thus contribute his maximum effort for winning the war. Extensions for two more years' leave of absence were granted to him by the school district, -- that is, until the end of the school year 1944-1945. On August 31, 1945, the school district approved the return of the plaintiff to the teaching position previously held, which teaching continued without interruption until June 9, 1952, when he was suspended. The Public School Code of 1949 requires that upon a decrease in the staff of teachers, those having the least seniority shall be first suspended.*fn1

Peter Kundra was employed by the School District on August 31, 1935, and has continued in his professional employment since that time. The question in this case is whether the plaintiff lost his seniority rights as of September 1, 1943, by virtue of the three one-year leaves of absence which he had obtained.

This case does not involve merely the rights of the defendants as against the plaintiff, but also involves the rights of Kundra, who would lose his position if the action of the court below were sustained. Since this is so, there is no doctrine of estoppel that can exist between the plaintiff and the ...


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