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SMETHPORT AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT v. BOWERS (10/09/70)

decided: October 9, 1970.

SMETHPORT AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT
v.
BOWERS, APPELLANT



Appeals from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of McKean County, June T., 1969, No. 274, and from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, No. 437 Commonwealth Docket, 1969, in cases of Smethport Area School District v. Harry L. Bowers, Jr.

COUNSEL

James K. Angell, and Angell and Angell, for appellant.

Ralph N. DeCamp, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts and Pomeroy, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Pomeroy. Mr. Chief Justice Bell and Mr. Justice Roberts concur in the result.

Author: Pomeroy

[ 440 Pa. Page 312]

The Board of School Directors of the Smethport (McKean County) Area School District (the "Board"), after a hearing, discharged Harry L. Bowers, Jr. (the appellant) from his position as District Superintendent on February 10, 1969. Appeal from the action of the Board was taken in the Court of Common Pleas of McKean County. Jurisdiction was asserted under the Local Agency Law (Act of December 2, 1968, P. L. 1133, 53 P.S. § 11301),*fn1 but the appeal was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter. The court held that the Board was not a "local agency" within the scope of the Local Agency Law.

The Court of Common Pleas of McKean County indicated its view that Bowers' appeal should properly have been taken to the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County under the terms of the review provisions of the Administrative Agency Law, Act of June 4, 1945, P. L. 1388, as amended, 71 P.S. §§ 1710.41-1710.47. It entered its opinion and order promptly so that, as it stated, appellant would have opportunity to take a timely appeal in Dauphin County, or seek direct review by our Court.

An appeal was then taken by the appellant in the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County; that appeal was also dismissed for lack of jurisdiction -- the School Board being viewed as outside the scope of the Administrative Agency Law. The court held that the

[ 440 Pa. Page 313]

School Board was neither an "agency . . . having Statewide jurisdiction" nor an agency specifically enumerated in the Act. Direct appeals were then taken to this Court from both the judgments below*fn2 denying jurisdiction.

The question presented by these appeals is which of the two courts below, if either, had jurisdiction to entertain Bowers' complaint that his dismissal by the Smethport Area School Board was unjustified and improper. A preliminary question, however, is whether each of the appeals from the lower courts is properly before this Court. A brief statement of the statutes involved in the appeals will be helpful as background to our determination.

Appellant's dismissal by the Board was purportedly under authority of Sections 514*fn3 and 1080*fn4 of the Public School Code of March 10, 1949, P. L. 30, as amended, 24 ...


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