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ALLEN v. UNIONTOWN AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT (12/28/71)

decided: December 28, 1971.

ALLEN, ET AL.
v.
UNIONTOWN AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT



Appeal from the Final Decree of the Court of Common Pleas of Fayette County in case of Arthur Allen, I. Dale Weller, W. S. Lloyd, Annette Kovach and Altha B. Nabors v. Uniontown Area School District, No. 2616 in Equity.

COUNSEL

David E. Cohen, with him Herbert Margolis, for appellant.

Henry R. Beeson, for appellees.

President Judge Bowman, and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Manderino, Mencer and Rogers. Opinion by Judge Kramer.

Author: Kramer

[ 4 Pa. Commw. Page 184]

The instant case comes before this Court upon appeal from an "Adjudication and Final Decree" (dated July 2, 1971) of the Court of Common Pleas of Fayette County, under which the Uniontown Area School District was "permanently enjoined from further proceeding with its present plan for the construction of a new Senior High School . . ." at a site known as "Continental," which lay outside the boundaries of the school district. The case began when Arthur Allen et al. (appellees) residents of the City of Uniontown, filed, on November 20, 1970, a complaint in equity praying that the Uniontown Area School District (appellant) be so permanently enjoined. In their complaint the appellees alleged that the board of the appellant had acted arbitrarily and capriciously in their considerations, investigations and deliberations relating to the construction plans of the senior high school buildings to be located at "Continental."

[ 4 Pa. Commw. Page 185]

In the interest of obtaining a final determination of this case as soon as possible, the parties stipulated and the lower court agreed to the submission of the notes of testimony, briefs and legal arguments directly to the court en banc for its opinion and final decree. This approach was utilized so that any subsequent appeal could be filed immediately before this Court. The Court of Common Pleas devoted nine days to the taking of testimony which yielded close to one thousand pages of testimony and an additional three hundred pages of exhibits. On July 12, 1971, appellant filed its appeal before this Court. The Appellate Court Jurisdiction Act, Act of July 31, 1970, P.L. 673, No. 223, Article IV, Section 402(4), 17 P.S. 211.402(4) vests appellate jurisdiction in this Court to hear the instant appeal.

In order to properly deal with this appeal we are compelled to first determine the judicial function vested in the courts of common pleas in such actions for injunctive relief. On this aspect, our Supreme Court has spoken in the case of Landerman v. Churchill Area School District, 414 Pa. 530, 534, 200 A.2d 867 (1964):

"In order for a court of equity to grant relief, it must clearly be shown that the school board acted outside the scope of its statutory authority or not in good faith. It is only where the board transcends the limits of its legal discretion that it is amenable to the injunctive processes of a court of equity: Detweiler v. Hatfield Borough School District, 376 Pa. 555, 566, 104 A.2d 110; Regan et al. v. Stoddard et al., 361 Pa. 469, 474, 65 A.2d 240. Spann v. Joint Boards of School Directors, 381 Pa. 338, 349, 113 A.2d 281, 287 (1955).

"The burden of showing such a clear abuse of discretion is a heavy one. Regan v. Stoddard, 361 Pa. 469, 65 A.2d 240 (1949); Hibbs v. Arensberg, 276 Pa. 24, 119 Atl. 727 (1923) . . . A careful reading of the complaint as a whole discloses nothing more than that

[ 4 Pa. Commw. Page 186]

    plaintiffs, with some support for their position, disagree with the judgment and ...


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