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PITTS v. KUNSMAN

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA


March 16, 1966

Harry PITTS et al.
v.
Elvin H. KUNSMAN et al.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: DAVIS

DAVIS, District Judge.

 The plaintiffs, duly elected members of the School Board of the Borough of Girardville, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, bring this action for injunctive relief against the County Superintendent of Schools of Schuylkill County and the School Directors of the Boroughs of Ashland, Frackville, and Gordon, the township of Butler and the School District of Ringtown-Union, all of Schuylkill County, and against the school directors of the Township of Conyngham, Columbia County, Pennsylvania. Jurisdiction is founded on the alleged unconstitutional application of a state statute in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The salient facts are not in dispute.

 Pursuant to Pa.Stat.Ann. tit. 24 § 2-202 et seq., the Schuylkill County Board of School Directors submitted to the State Council of Basic Education a plan for the reorganization of the school districts of the County. The State Council approved Administrative Unit No. 63-9 which is comprised of all the school districts involved in this litigation.

 In the summer of 1963, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed the School Reorganization Act, Pa.Stat.Ann. tit. 24 §§ 2-202 et seq., which sets forth various guidelines and procedures for the consolidation and merger of many of the smaller school districts throughout the Commonwealth. In accordance with that statute, the defendant Schuylkill County Superintendent of Schools called into convention all the incumbent school directors of the districts included in Administrative Unit No. 63-9 for the purpose of electing an interim operating committee to be composed of nine of their number. The Act states in § 3-303.1(b) that "in selecting [the members of] the interim operating committee, the incumbent school directors shall take into consideration the principle of proportionate representation according to population." Once established, this committee then has the full powers of a school board and is to remain in existence until popular elections are held for new school directors beginning in November 1967.

 The convention of school directors elected two directors each from the School Districts of Frackville, Ashland, and Butler, and one each from Gordon, Conyngham, and Ringtown-Union. It chose no one from the Borough of Girardville.

 In this action, the plaintiffs, who are the incumbent school directors from Girardville, assert that the failure to elect someone from their district was a violation of the provision of the School Reorganization Act quoted above that requires the convention to take into consideration the population factor. They contend further that the statute as applied is an infringement of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment in that Girardville is now unrepresented and denied a voice in the educational affairs of Administrative Unit No. 63-9 until at least the fall of 1967 while other districts with smaller populations have one representative and some of the larger ones have two. The population figures and other relevant data as to representation are as follows: Percentage of Residents Total Unit Members per Population Population Elected Member Frackville 5,654 26.94 2 2,827 Ashland 5,007 23.86 2 2,503 Butler 3,340 15.92 2 1,670 Girardville 2,958 14.10 0 0 Ringtown- Union 2,018 9.62 1 2,018 Conyngham 1,119 5.33 1 1,119 Gordon 888 4.23 1 888 20,984 100.00 9

19660316

© 1992-2004 VersusLaw Inc.



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