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SHELLEM v. SPRINGFIELD SCHOOL DISTRICT (APPEAL SPRINGFIELD SCHOOL DISTRICT) (11/13/72)

decided: November 13, 1972.

SHELLEM
v.
SPRINGFIELD SCHOOL DISTRICT (APPEAL OF SPRINGFIELD SCHOOL DISTRICT)



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County in case of Paul J. Shellem v. Springfield School District, No. 2045 of 1970.

COUNSEL

D. Barry Gibbons, with him George P. Noel and Gibbons, Buckley & Smith, for appellant.

Joseph L. Monte, Jr., with him Eckell, Sparks, Vadino, Auerbach & Monte, for appellee.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. President Judge Bowman did not participate. Opinion by Judge Mencer.

Author: Mencer

[ 6 Pa. Commw. Page 516]

In September of 1969, the School Board of the Springfield School District (Springfield) engaged Paul J. Shellem (Shellem) as a "long-term substitute" to teach mathematics for the school year 1969-1970, at a salary of $7170. No written contract was executed between the parties but, as a condition of employment, Shellem was to obtain teaching credits by attendance at a college which would certify his enrollment, and thereby he would be permitted to obtain a necessary Interim Teaching Certificate from the Commonwealth. Springfield agreed to reimburse Shellem for one-half the tuition cost upon completion of the credits.

Shellem soon encountered difficulties with the school administration, and his teaching performance was rated, in December, 1969, as "unsatisfactory." During January 1970 the school Principal discussed with Shellem his alleged deficiencies as a teacher and suggested

[ 6 Pa. Commw. Page 517]

    that he resign. A subsequent interview with the Superintendent of the Springfield schools led to the same suggestion.

On January 21, 1970, Shellem was informed by the Superintendent that there was "no out" for him except resignation or dismissal. Shellem then requested a public hearing before the School Board. The Superintendent informed him that a meeting would be arranged at which the charges and proof against him would be presented but that the meeting would not be public, nor would he be permitted to bring witnesses or an attorney.

The relevant developments thereafter are well summarized in the lower court's opinion as follows:

"On Tuesday or Wednesday of the following week, January 27-28, 1970, Shellem received a letter from the Superintendent informing him of a special meeting of the School Board to be held on Thursday evening at 8 P.M. (January 29, 1970). He was again directed not to bring witnesses or an attorney.

"Plaintiff, together with another teacher, attended the private meeting of the School Board on the 29th. The Solicitor for the Board was not present. The Principal, Mr. Smith, outlined generally the basis for dismissal. ...


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