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ELLWOOD CITY AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT v. SECRETARY EDUCATION (08/03/73)

decided: August 3, 1973.

ELLWOOD CITY AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT, APPELLANT,
v.
SECRETARY OF EDUCATION, APPELLEE, AND GEORGE R. REESE, JR., INTERVENING APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Secretary of Education in case of Appeal of George R. Reese, a Professional Employe, from a Decision of the Board of School Directors of the Ellwood City Area School District, Lawrence County, Pa., No. 215.

COUNSEL

William F. Kershner, with him John E. Krampf, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Phillip E. Morris, and Morris & McKim, for appellant.

Edward A. Miller, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

Ronald N. Watzman, with him Watzman, Levenson and Snyder, for intervening appellee.

James F. Wildeman, with him Francis A. Zulli and James L. Crawford, Assistant Attorneys General, for amicus curiae, Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board.

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

Author: Wilkinson

[ 9 Pa. Commw. Page 478]

The question before the court, as accurately stated by appellant, is: "Does membership in various teachers' organizations, national, state and local render a first level supervisor incompetent under the tenure laws, for the reason that such membership precludes him from performing all of the duties that otherwise he would be

[ 9 Pa. Commw. Page 479]

    expected to perform?" This question was answered in the affirmative by the appellant School District which, after notice and hearing, dismissed intervening appellee, George R. Reese, Jr., from his position as Assistant High School Principal. Prior to being promoted to this position in August 1971, intervening appellee Reese had been a tenured high school teacher in appellant School District.

The Secretary of Education, on appeal, reversed the School District and ordered it to reinstate intervening appellee Reese forthwith without loss of pay. This appeal followed. We must affirm the Secretary.

The charges upon which intervening appellee Reese was dismissed were incompetence and negligence based entirely on the fact that he was a member of employe organizations which, the School District concluded, made him ineligible to handle grievances or to otherwise perform duties properly assignable to an Assistant High School Principal.

The issue before us is entirely one of law. There is no dispute on the facts. There was only one witness who testified at the hearing before the School District. He was the Superintendent of Schools of the School District. He testified that intervening appellee Reese had never received an unsatisfactory rating for his work as Assistant High School Principal. The record shows that it was known to the School District at and prior to the time he was promoted to Assistant High School Principal that intervening appellee Reese was a member of these associations. It was clear that the School District disapproved of his membership, but it is equally clear that it never asked him to resign and equally clear that he never ...


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