Appeal from the Order of the Department of Education in case of Appeal of Benjamin Lucciola, a Professional Employe, from a decision of the Board of School Directors of the Delaware Valley School District, Pike County, Pennsylvania, No. 268.
John J. Schneider, with him Kayton, Schneider, Davis and Levy, for appellant.
Patricia A. Donovan, Chief Counsel, with her Edward A. Miller, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.
Arthur K. Ridley, with him Krawitz, Sigal & Ridley, P.A., for intervening appellee.
Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Wilkinson. Judge Kramer did not participate in the decision in this case.
[ 25 Pa. Commw. Page 420]
This is an appeal from a decision of the Secretary of Education (Secretary) which upheld the dismissal
[ 25 Pa. Commw. Page 421]
of appellant as a professional employee by the Board of School Directors of the Delaware Valley School District (Board). We affirm.
During the 1974-1975 school year appellant was employed as an elementary school teacher in the Delaware Valley School District. On February 17, 1975, appellant submitted to the district superintendent a written request for personal business leave for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of the next week, February 26, 27 and 28, for the following reasons: "Sale of my ailing father's house in the city, requiring my presence at the bank, other personal matters to be cleaned up also." The request was approved the same day. On Monday, February 24, 1975, a telephone call, on appellant's behalf, was made to the school district stating that appellant would not report for work that day or the next due to illness. Appellant, consequently, was absent the entire school week of February 24-28, 1975.
By letter dated July 8, 1975, appellant was notified that the Board was to consider his dismissal on the following statement of charges: "On February 24 and 25, 1975, you were absent from the School District for allegedly being ill; and on February 26, 27 and 28, 1975, you had requested personal business days to handle the sale of your ailing father's property in the city. Other information indicates that you were, in fact, in Vermont during the period February 24-February 28, 1975." A hearing was held before the Board on July 22, 1975, following which, by letter dated August 1, 1975, appellant was informed that the Board had voted to discharge him, effective immediately, for persistent and willful violation of the school laws. The decision of the Board was appealed to the Secretary who affirmed, concluding that appellant deliberately abused his personal business and sick leave privileges. Specifically, the Secretary found
[ 25 Pa. Commw. Page 422]
that during the week of February 24-28, 1975, when appellant was apparently on personal business and sick leave, he was actually in New England on a skiing trip ...