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VANGUARD SCHOOL TAX EXEMPTION CASE (07/01/68)

decided: July 1, 1968.

VANGUARD SCHOOL TAX EXEMPTION CASE


Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, No. 12855 of 1967, in re appeal of Vanguard School from Board for the Assessment and Revision of Taxes of Chester County.

COUNSEL

J. B. H. Carter, with him Peter Hearn, J. T. Hulce, Edward Rocap, James A. Moore, and Pepper, Hamilton & Scheetz, for appellant.

Theodore O. Rogers, with him Susan P. Windle, and Rogers & O'Neill, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Musmanno. Dissenting Opinion by Mr. Justice Cohen. Mr. Justice Eagen joins in this dissenting opinion.

Author: Musmanno

[ 430 Pa. Page 380]

The children attending the Vanguard School in Chester County live in that shadowland which marks them neither as normal or abnormal. They are not deaf, and yet the sounds of the world come to them distorted and frequently incapable of being interpreted in their true tones; they are not blind, but fog envelops much of what comes before their vision; they are not lame but they stumble on paths over which soundly-developed boys and girls skip merrily and without mishap.

Thus they need assistance and guidance if they are to acquire that capacity and confidence which will enable them to grow up to become capable citizens of the state, nation and community in which they will live to enjoy the blessings of this land of liberty and equal opportunity. The Vanguard School is dedicated to overcoming their deficiencies. The curriculum is designed to so train and equip these unfortunate children so that one day the sun will shine on a world where no one will refer to them as "socially and emotionally unstable."

Generous benefactors contributed toward founding and maintaining the Vanguard School, but their gifts cannot equal the sums required to operate such an institution to the end that parents may eventually see in their child the healthy, social, companionable person they had envisioned before his or her birth. Thus, the parents pay tuition in the amount of $3000 per child per annum. The Pennsylvania Department of Public Instruction, under authorization and appropriation by the General Assembly renders aid in the sum of $1500 per child. The compensation for instructors is modest. The school is operated on a non-profit basis. In view of the nature of the institution and the circumstances here related, Vanguard asked for exemption from taxes for real estate. This was denied by the Chester County

[ 430 Pa. Page 381]

Board for the Assessment and Revision of Taxes. On appeal the court of common pleas affirmed the rejection. Vanguard then appealed to this Court.

Article IX, § 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution provides: "The General Assembly may, by general laws, exempt from taxation public property used for public purposes, actual places of religious worship, places of burial not used or held for private or corporate profit, institutions of purely public charity."

In pursuance of this Constitutional provision the General Assembly enacted the law of May 21, 1943, P. L. 571, § 202 as amended, 72 P.S. § 5453.202 which exempts from local taxation: "all hospitals, universities, colleges, seminaries, academies, associations and institutions of learning, benevolence or charity . . . endowed and maintained by public or private charity . . ."

The Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, after discussing the moneys received by Vanguard, said: "Vanguard's operation is not a losing proposition so far as this record would indicate. There is no showing upon it that it costs more to educate its ...


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