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KAREN KUDASIK v. BOARD DIRECTORS (02/05/76)

decided: February 5, 1976.

KAREN KUDASIK, APPELLANT
v.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS, PORT ALLEGANY SCHOOL DISTRICT, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of McKean County in case of Karen Kudasik v. Board of Directors of Port Allegany School District, No. 111 December Term, 1974.

COUNSEL

William A. Hebe, with him Spencer, Gleason & Hebe, for appellant.

Edward N. Stoner, with him Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, for appellee.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer and Mencer, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.

Author: Mencer

[ 23 Pa. Commw. Page 209]

Karen Kudasik filed a petition in the Court of Common Pleas of McKean County captioned "Petition for Appeal from Final Adjudication under Section 7 of the Local Agency Law." Miss Kudasik was employed by the Port Allegany School District (School District) as a temporary professional employee on January 14, 1974. By letter dated July 10, 1974, she was notified by the School District that it had terminated her services as a consequence of her being rated unsatisfactory by the School District's superintendent. The unsatisfactory rating was dated July 8, 1974, and the July 10, 1974 letter of termination set forth the reasons for the unsatisfactory rating issued by the superintendent.

Miss Kudasik then requested a hearing in accord with the provisions of the Local Agency Law, Act of December 2, 1968, P.L. 1133, 53 P.S. § 11301 et seq. The School District gave Miss Kudasik an opportunity to appear before its Board of Education at a special meeting held on September 11, 1974. Miss Kudasik was questioned by

[ 23 Pa. Commw. Page 210]

    her attorney, as was a witness called on her behalf, but neither was placed under oath. No transcript or record was made of the questions or answers, and the School District did not present witnesses or offer any evidence, but at the conclusion of Miss Kudasik's presentation, the School Board voted, in the presence of all assembled, to affirm its July 8, 1974 decision terminating the employment of Miss Kudasik.

The appeal to the trial court was based on alleged procedural defects in the so-called hearing held before the School Board on September 11, 1974. The trial court, after expressing doubt that the Local Agency Law applies to cases involving the discharge of temporary professional employees, found that the School District had not violated the provisions of the Local Agency Law and confirmed Miss Kudasik's termination by the School District and dismissed her petition of appeal. This appeal followed, and we reverse and remand.

We have previously declared that the Local Agency Law does provide a means for an appeal from a school district's decision to terminate the services of a temporary professional employee. Smith v. Harmony Area School District, 16 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 175, 328 A.2d 883 (1974); Hutnik v. Duquesne School District, 8 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 387, 302 A.2d 873 (1973).

Section 4 of the Local Agency Law, 53 P.S. § 11304, indicates a hearing as a prerequisite to a valid adjudication. In Vandergrift Borough v. Polito, 397 Pa. 538, 541-42, 156 A.2d 99, 101 (1959), the Supreme Court stated that "[a] hearing necessarily requires notice and an opportunity to defend. That is what distinguishes it from an investigation. . . . '[A]ll parties must be apprised of the evidence submitted, and must be given opportunity to cross-examine ...


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