Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Beaver County in case of Evelyn V. Kanzelmeyer v. Milton J. Eger, A. Gay Shinaberry, Mark Hilliker, Robert Zappie, Lawrence C. Mezmar, Gaze Yoko, Joseph J. Cafrelli, Sam J. Taormina, Robert Cleary, all members of the Board of Directors of Hopewell Area School District; Camillo A. Bonomi, Superintendent of Hopewell Area School District; and Lillian Curtiss, Secretary, Board of School Directors, Hopewell Area School District, No. 416 of 1973.
Robert E. Kunselman, with him Reed, Sohn, Reed & Kunselman, for appellant.
Eugene Morris, for appellees.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Judges Kramer and Wilkinson, Jr. did not participate. Opinion by Judge Rogers.
[ 16 Pa. Commw. Page 497]
The appellant, Evelyn V. Kanzelmeyer, a resident taxpayer of the Hopewell Area School District, sought to examine school district records to determine whether in April and May of 1972 certain professional employees had received pay for unexcused and unauthorized absences from work. She sought access to payroll registers, payroll vouchers and attendance records. Refused such access by the school district, she appealed to the Court of Common Pleas of Beaver County pursuant to Section 4 of the Act of June 21, 1957, P.L. 390, as amended, 65 P.S. § 66.4, popularly known as the "Right to Know Law." At the hearing of the appeal in the lower court, the school district furnished the payroll registers. The court below held that the appellant was not entitled to examine the payroll vouchers or attendance records. At argument before us, the appellant conceded that she should not be given access to the payroll vouchers because these documents contain information to which such access is prohibited, restrained or forbidden by law. There remains, therefore, for our consideration only the question whether the court below properly ordered that the appellant should not be permitted to examine the attendance records.
Section 1(2) of the Act of 1957, as amended, 65 P.S. § 66.1(2) (Supp. 1974-1975), defines a public record as: " Any account, voucher or contract dealing with the receipt or disbursement of funds by an agency or its acquisition, use or disposal of services or of supplies, materials, equipment or other property and any minute, order or decision by an agency fixing the personal or property rights, privileges, immunities, duties or obligations of any person or group of persons: Provided,
[ 16 Pa. Commw. Page 498]
That the term 'public records' shall not mean any report, communication or other paper, the publication of which would disclose the institution, progress or result of an investigation undertaken by an agency in the performance of its official duties, except those reports filed by agencies pertaining to safety and health in industrial plants; it shall not include any record, document, material, exhibit, pleading, report, memorandum or other paper, access to or the publication of which is prohibited, restricted or forbidden by statute law or order or decree of court, or which would operate to the prejudice or impairment of a person's reputation or personal security, or which would result in the loss by the Commonwealth or any of its political subdivisions or commissions or state or municipal authorities of Federal funds, excepting therefrom however the record of any conviction for any criminal act." (Emphasis supplied.)
The employee attendance records of the school district are maintained on cards on which the principal of the school to which said employee is attached makes a daily record. At the end of each month the principal delivers the cards to the payroll department for use in ascertaining in the case of each employee whether his or her salary should be paid in full or "docked" for days absent without entitlement to compensation. The pertinent portions of the card are as follows:
[ 16 Pa. Commw. Page 499]
[ 16 Pa. Commw. Page 500]
If we understand the lower court's opinion, it concluded that access to the attendance cards should be withheld because the revelation of illnesses and family deaths could impair the reputation or personal security of the employee and because under the heading "General Remarks" the employee's superior might record ...