Appeal from the Order of the Secretary of Education in case of In Re: Appeal of Paul D. Landi, Professional Employee, from a decision of the Board of School Directors of the West Chester Area School District, Chester County, Pennsylvania, No. 246.
John M. Gallagher, Jr., with him Richard, Brian, DiSanti & Hamilton, for appellant.
Lawrence E. MacElree, with him Randy L. Sebastian, and MacElree, Harvey, Gallagher & Kean, for appellee, School District.
Ross A. Urich, Assistant Attorney General, with him Edward A. Miller, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee, Commonwealth.
Judges Kramer, Rogers and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.
[ 23 Pa. Commw. Page 587]
Paul D. Landi, formerly a tenured professional employe of the West Chester Area School District, here appeals from an order of the Secretary of Education sustaining the action of the School Board terminating his contract.
On May 6, 1974 Mr. Landi was a veteran of 16 years of teaching in the public schools of Pennsylvania, the last 11 of which had been served in the West Chester Area School District. The incident which resulted in his being charged with cruelty, a cause of termination provided by Section 1122 of the Public School Code of 1949,*fn1 occurred on that date. A proper notice of the charge was provided, the School Board conducted a hearing at which Mr. Landi was represented by counsel, the Board determined that the charge had been proved and on appeal the record made by the Board was submitted as the record upon which the Secretary should base his decision.
The Secretary made the following critical findings of fact:
"2. On the afternoon of Monday, May 6, 1974, the appellant's sixth grade students were restless and edgy in anticipation of dismissal which would be occurring within the next 15 minutes; it was a study
[ 23 Pa. Commw. Page 588]
period and the students were free to work as they wished. The Appellant noticed that one student, Donald F., was talking with his classmates instead of studying. The Appellant called Donald to the front of the room and asked him to be quiet and work on his lessons. When Donald returned to his chair, someone said: 'The elephant is angry.' This remark the Appellant understood to be a reference to himself -- the Appellant is a large, heavy-set man, weighing approximately two hundred thirty pounds and standing six feet one inch tall.
"3. Believing that Donald had made the remark, the Appellant called him back to the front of the room. The Appellant grabbed Donald by the shoulders, shook him, then pushed him into the blackboard causing Donald to hit his head. Donald fell to the floor. The Appellant grabbed Donald by his hair and arm and lifted him to his feet. The Appellant then pushed Donald into the bookcase. Donald hit his head again ...