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HOPFER v. OKLAMCHAK. (04/17/62)

April 17, 1962

HOPFER, APPELLANT,
v.
OKLAMCHAK.



Appeal, No. 57, March T., 1962, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County, Dec. T., 1960, No. 274, in case of Mabel Hopfer v. John Oklamchak, William Discavage, John Orlosky et al. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

Joseph F. O'Kicki, with him Arnold D. Smorto, and Smorto & Creany, for appellant.

Ferdinand F. Bionaz, for appellees.

Before Bell, C.j., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen and O'brien, JJ.

Author: Cohen

[ 407 Pa. Page 193]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE COHEN

Mabel Hopfer, plaintiff-appellant, served the Portage, Pennsylvania school district as an elementary school teacher for forty-three years prior to 1960. In the spring of that year, appellant received a letter from the employer school district notifying her that her professional contract would not be renewed, since prior to the opening of the 1960-61 school term, she would reach age sixty-two. Under a 1959 resolution of the school district, male professional employees had to retire upon

[ 407 Pa. Page 194]

    reaching age sixty-five and female professional employees had to retire upon reaching age sixty-two.

Despite this notice, appellant attempted to report for work at the opening of the 1960-61 school term. Her supervisor, however, refused to assign her to classes. Appellant then filed a complaint in mandamus against the directors and officers of the school district seeking to compel them to reinstate her. Following appropriate proceedings, the court below held that appellant's forced retirement was valid and dismissed the complaint.

Underlying this dispute is a change in the provisions of the Public School Code of March 10, 1949, P.L. 30, § 1122; May 9, 1949, P.L. 939, 24 PS § 11-1122. As originally enacted, this section provided that the contract of a professional employee could be terminated involuntarily only for certain stated causes, one of which was attainment of the age of sixty-two. Whether or not retirement was to be required at this age, however, was at the discretion of the board of school directors. Such forced retirement for age has been upheld by this court. Cary v. Lower Merion School District, 362 Pa. 310, 66 A.2d 762 (1949).

Thereafter, by the Act of January 5, 1952, P.L. (1951) 1833, as amended by the Act of June 1, 1956, P.L. (1955) 1973, 65 PS §§ 201-209, employees of the Pennsylvania public school system were granted the opportunity to qualify for benefits under the Federal Social Security Act which previously had been extended to state employees who elected to come within its coverage.

In order to make this extension of benefits meaningful, the General Assembly then enacted the Act of June 28, 1957, P.L. 395, amending § 1122 of the Public School Code. This amendment limited the right of the school board to require retirement at age ...


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