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BUELL v. UNION TOWNSHIP SCHOOL DISTRICT. (05/08/59)

May 8, 1959

BUELL, APPELLANT,
v.
UNION TOWNSHIP SCHOOL DISTRICT.



Appeals, Nos. 31 and 33, March T., 1959, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, Feb. T., 1958, No. 548, in case of William H. Buell et al. v. Union Township School District. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

Davis G. Yohe, with him Peacock, Keller & Yohe, for appellants.

Austin J. Murphy, Jr., for appellee.

Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Bok and Mcbride, JJ.

Author: Jones

[ 395 Pa. Page 568]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BENJAMIN R. JONES

Are the secretary and treasurer, or either, of a third class school district subject to removal from office at the pleasure and discretion of the board of school directors, the appointing power?

On May 7, 1957 Harold R. Philips was elected school district treasurer for a 1 year term; on June 4, 1957 William H. Buell was elected school district secretary for a 4 year term. Both individuals were elected by the Union Township board of school directors,*fn1 said Township being located in Washington County.

On December 2, 1957 Buell and Philips were dismissed by the board of school directors without any hearing or stated cause. Buell and Philips each sued the school district in assumpsit for an alleged wrongful discharge from employment and claimed their respective

[ 395 Pa. Page 569]

    salaries for the balance of the unexpired terms for which they had been elected. Preliminary objections in the nature of a demurrer filed by the school district were sustained by the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County and from its order these appeals were taken.

The respective contentions of the parties are clear. Appellants contend that the exclusive method for the removal of school district officers, such as a secretary and treasurer, is provided by art. V, § 514 of the School Code of 1949,*fn2 which states "The board of school directors in any school district, except as herein otherwise provided, shall after due notice, giving the reasons therefor, and after hearing if demanded, have the right at any time to remove any of its officers ... for incompetency, intemperance, neglect of duty, violation of any of the school laws of this Commonwealth, or other improper conduct." On the other hand, appellee justifies appellants' summary removal on the basis of art. VI, § 4 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, which provides "Appointed officers, other than judges of the courts of record and the Superintendent of Public Instruction, may be removed at the pleasure of the power by which they shall have been appointed."

Neither Buell nor Philips were elected by popular vote; the source of their selection was the board of school directors and while the selection of appellants is termed an election under the statute, actually it was an appointment. Both ...


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