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SCHOOL DISTRICT CITY PITTSBURGH v. ROBERT ZEBRA (09/10/74)

decided: September 10, 1974.

SCHOOL DISTRICT OF THE CITY OF PITTSBURGH, APPELLANT,
v.
ROBERT ZEBRA, MYLES M. BISHOP, EDWARD W. CLEGG, DUSH KOSANOVICH, BERNARD J. MAJESKI, KENNETH R. MCDONALD, ROBERT M. WILKINSON, WILLIAM F. BELL, JOHN LAZOR, KENNETH E. ASBURY, LEO J. BAKALARSKI, WILLIAM J. KASTEN, WENDELL PAPP, JAMES ROY CUMMINGS, CHARLES W. DAVIS, SR., MATHEW DAWIDA, RONALD H. FREUDENBERG, GEORGE T. LEARY, JR., MICHAEL J. MANKO, JAMES J. MONTGOMERY, THERESA B. POTENZIANI, AUGUST J. ROSTEK, RALPH E. MCGEE, WILLIAM F. BESSELMAN, JR., EDWARD J. SCHIMMEL, JAMES W. EVERITT, HENRY G. HUEBNER, ANDREW VERI, JR., JOSEPH P. CHESNEY, MICHAEL CZARNY, JOHN J. SOROKA, EUGENE A. WOODS, HARRY J. MOSLANDER, DONALD J. WISLICH, JOSEPH G. DUSCH, WILLIAM A. KNETZER, BOGDAN MURAL, RAYMOND SAGER, JOHN A. STRAZDINS, FRANK S. HAINES, GEORGE S. EVERMAN, PAUL D. GRAHAM, WILLIAM G. HARRER, GEORGE MARAVICH, WILLIAM L. RUST, JOSEPH F. STRIDNICKI AND DONALD A. MILLER, APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of Robert Zebra, Myles M. Bishop, Edward W. Clegg, Dush Kosanovich, Bernard J. Majeski, Kenneth R. McDonald, Robert M. Wilkinson, William F. Bell, John Lazor, Kenneth E. Asbury, Leo J. Bakalarski, William J. Kasten, Wendell Papp, James Roy Cummings, Charles W. Davis, Sr., Mathew Dawida, Ronald H. Freudenberg, George T. Leary, Jr., Michael J. Manko, James J. Montgomery, Theresa B. Potenziani, August J. Rostek, Ralph E. McGee, William F. Besselman, Jr., Edward J. Schimmel, James W. Everitt, Henry G. Huebner, Andrew Veri, Jr., Joseph P. Chesney, Michael Czarny, John J. Soroka, Eugene A. Woods, Harry J. Moslander, Donald J. Wislich, Joseph G. Dusch, William A. Knetzer, Bogdan Mural, Raymond Sager, John A. Strazdins, Frank S. Haines, George S. Everman, Paul D. Graham, William G. Harrer, George Maravich, William L. Rust, Joseph F. Stridnicki and Donald A. Miller v. School District of the City of Pittsburgh, No. 433 January Term, 1972.

COUNSEL

Persifor S. Oliver, Jr., Assistant Solicitor, with him Justin M. Johnson, Solicitor, for appellant.

John V. Adams, Jr., with him Paul G. Kachulis and Kachulis, Copetas, Adams & Hillen, for appellees.

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

Author: Blatt

[ 15 Pa. Commw. Page 205]

On June 15, 1971, the Board of Public Education of the School District of Pittsburgh (Board of Education) adopted a school reorganization plan according to which children who had completed the sixth grade at Concord Elementary School (Concord) were to continue their education at Knoxville Junior High School (Knoxville) for grades seven through nine. Previously, such children would have been assigned to Overbrook

[ 15 Pa. Commw. Page 206]

Elementary School (Overbrook) for the seventh and eighth grades.

Before school opened in September of 1971, there was considerable discussion and other communication among the parents of the children reassigned, and the faculty and administration at Knoxville and the Board of Education. Two "open house" meetings were held during the summer and, at least partially as a result of these meetings, the physical conditions at Knoxville were measurably improved.

School opened at Knoxville on September 7 and the Concord graduates complied at that time with the reorganization plan by attending classes at Knoxville. During the first three weeks of school, however, some of the Concord children encountered difficulties. Eleven of them later testified that they were subjected to harassment by other students, including a number of violent assaults and extortionary threats. On September 23 there were rumors circulating through the school to the effect that there was to be a riot on the following day, and a false fire alarm on September 24 may have caused some students to become frightened. At any rate, at a meeting at Overbrook on September 27 forty-seven parents or legal guardians of children who had attended Concord and were now attending Knoxville withdrew their children from Knoxville and demanded reassignment to Overbrook. After several further meetings involving parents, school officials and Board of Education representatives, the parents gained an audience before the Board of Education on October 2 at Concord where they orally presented their grievances concerning the safety of their children at Knoxville.

On October 8 the school directors met and authorized the Acting Superintendent of the school system to take whatever steps were necessary to insure the safety and welfare of all the children attending Knoxville. On October 13 the principal of Knoxville sent a letter to

[ 15 Pa. Commw. Page 207]

    each of the families whose children had been withdrawn, advising them that appropriate safety measures were being taken and requesting their cooperation in having the children returned to Knoxville. On that same day, the parents concerned filed a complaint in equity in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County against the School District of the City of Pittsburgh to enjoin its continuing ...


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