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HELEN SWEENEY v. LAKELAND SCHOOL DISTRICT (05/08/74)

decided: May 8, 1974.

HELEN SWEENEY, APPELLANT,
v.
LAKELAND SCHOOL DISTRICT, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County in case of Helen Sweeney v. Lakeland School District, No. 839 September Term, 1969.

COUNSEL

Paul H. Price, with him Oliver, Price and Rhodes, for appellant.

James A. Kelly, with him Carey, Kelly & Walker, for appellee.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Rogers. Judge Mencer concurs in the result only.

Author: Rogers

[ 13 Pa. Commw. Page 486]

This is an appeal from a judgment entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County in favor of Lakeland School District, defendant in an assumpsit action brought by Helen Sweeney to recover a portion of salary allegedly due for her services as a professional employe of the defendant.

Sweeney's complaint was filed in August of 1969. The defendant filed preliminary objections which the court below dismissed. This action was appealed to the Superior Court, which affirmed the lower court in November 1970. The school district filed a responsive answer in December 1970. The matter languished until January of 1973 when counsel for the parties filed a document labeled "Case Stated." The court below filed a writing entitled Memorandum & Verdict, which concludes with an order dismissing the complaint and

[ 13 Pa. Commw. Page 487]

    entering a verdict in favor of the defendant. The court's action was based upon its conclusion that the plaintiff failed to assert or demonstrate the existence of a written contract between the plaintiff and defendant. The plaintiff then filed a petition alleging that a written contract in fact existed and praying for a rule to show cause why she should not be permitted to produce the contract for consideration in the case. The court below examined the proferred written contract and construed it as obliging the school district to pay salary increases mandated by the Legislature but as not imposing upon the district any obligation to pay salary in excess of that mandated or, indeed, any salary not a part of an established salary schedule.*fn1 The court thereupon dismissed the plaintiff's petition for rule and entered judgment for the defendant from which this appeal is taken.

From the pleadings and the so-called case stated, some but, as we will point out, not all of the essential facts are established. The plaintiff and the Scott Township School District entered into a written agreement dated September 1, 1964 by which the plaintiff agreed to serve as a professional employe of the school district for an annual compensation of $6300. The contract is made expressly subject to the provisions of the

[ 13 Pa. Commw. Page 488]

Public School Code of 1949, is to continue in force from year to year, and reserves to the school board the right to increase the plaintiff's compensation from time to time. It is verbatim the form required to be used by Section 1121 of the Public School Code of 1949, 24 P.S. ยง 11-1121.

On July 19, 1967 the Board of School Directors of Scott Township duly adopted a resolution which increased the salary of its professional employes, including the plaintiff, by the sum of $300 "over and above the State mandated salaries." The salary paid to the plaintiff by Scott Township School District for her services during the school ...


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