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IN-CHO CHUNG v. PARK

June 21, 1974

In-Cho Chung, Plaintiff
v.
Lawrence Park, individually and as President of Mansfield State College et al., Defendants


Muir, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: MUIR

MUIR, District Judge.

 This civil rights action pursuant to pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 was instituted by a college professor at Mansfield State College who alleged that his constitutional rights had been violated when his employment was terminated at the school. In a decision earlier this year, Chung v. Park, 369 F. Supp. 959 (M.D. Pa. 1974), the Court held that Plaintiff In-Cho Chung was entitled to tenure under the College's tenure policy. The Court then heard evidence on the issue of whether Dr. Chung received "due process" under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution in the proceedings which led to his discharge.

 The Faculty Handbook sets forth the procedures to be utilized by the College in dismissing a tenured faculty member. The state claims that it is immune from that part of Plaintiff's claim which is based upon the embellishments to his federal constitutional rights contained in the Faculty Handbook. The Commonwealth made a motion for summary judgment on the immunity ground at the time of trial. It will be denied. The Commonwealth also asserts that when Chung accepted the type of hearing which had been worked out by his attorney with the attorney for the Commonwealth, he waived his right to the type of hearing which was prescribed by the Faculty Handbook. In any event, the Commonwealth claims that the scope of the hearing received by Plaintiff was in all respects in conformity with the requirements of the "due process" clause of the Constitution.

 II. Findings of Fact.

 1. The Court reaffirms all findings of fact numbered 1 through 62 in its Opinion of January 30, 1974.

 2. President Park's letter of December 6, 1971 listed the following reasons for Dr. Chung's termination:

 
"(a) The recommendations of those most knowledgeable about your teaching and your contribution as a member of the Department of Biology do not support granting you a continuing appointment except under conditions which the administration finds incompatible with the staffing needs of the college and the Department.
 
"(b) There is significant concern among students in your classes about the quality of your teaching.
 
"(c) Because of the problems with your teaching, the Department's ability to assign you to your full share of teaching responsibilities is impaired.
 
"(d) You did not accept the concerns expressed by the administration about your teaching and you took actions which in effect kept the chairman and your department colleagues from fully identifying and resolving the problems."

 (R-20; Finding of Fact #53, Court's Opinion of January 30, 1974)

 3. The reasons outlined in para. 2 were rendered more specific by the presentation to Dr. Chung of detailed documents prior to the effective date of the termination of his employment at Mansfield State College and prior to the date of his hearing. (Exhibits D-3, C-40, R-17, R-18, R-19, R-20)

 4. An administrative hearing lasting eight trial days between April 10, 1972 and May 25, 1972 was provided Dr. Chung at the College before the completion of fifth year of employment. (Hearing panel transcript, Vols. 1 through 8)

 5. The first sentence of the opinion rendered by the hearing panel states the genesis and purpose of the panel hearing: "This panel was convened with the joint approval of Edgar R. Casper, Deputy Attorney General, Mansfield State College, Dr. In-Cho Chung and his counsel, Mr. Thomas A. Walrath, Esq., with the understanding that the panel would conduct a public hearing in the nature of a due process hearing to afford Dr. In-Cho Chung an opportunity to hear and present evidence which might be material, relevant, and competent on the issue as hereinafter defined." (Exhibit P-1, p. 1)

 6. The parties stipulated at the hearing that "the nature of this hearing is a public hearing designed to afford Dr. Chung the opportunity to hear and have detailed for him whatever evidence there might be which influenced or guided Dr. Lawrence Park in his decision of December 6, 1971, not to grant continuing employment status to Dr. Chung, and to afford Dr. Chung, through counsel, to follow through with any evidence that he deems necessary to show that decision was arbitrary, capricious, or discriminatory." (Stipulation in trial transcript, Vol. 1, pp. 36-37)

 7. Mr. Walrath, counsel for Dr. Chung, and the Attorney General's office agreed to the following procedural rules for the hearing:

 
(a) The hearing would be public.
 
(b) Admissibility of evidence would be within the discretion of the panel chairman subject to general considerations of relevancy and materiality.
 
(c) A written transcript would be kept.
 
(d) Both parties would present written evidence or oral testimony and would have the ...

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