Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County in case of Robert L. Fatscher v. The Board of School Directors of the Springfield School District, No. 75-12388.
D. Barry Gibbons, with him Gibbons, Buckley and Smith, for appellant.
Alexander A. DiSanti, with him Richard, Brian, DiSanti & Hamilton, for appellee.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr. and Wilkinson, Jr., sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Judge Bowman.
[ 28 Pa. Commw. Page 171]
Due to an alleged decrease in pupil enrollment, the Board of School Directors (Board), of Springfield School District, Delaware County, suspended Robert L. Fatscher (appellee), a tenured professional employe, pursuant to Sections 1124 and 1125 of the Public School Code of 1949 (Code).*fn1 Upon receiving notice of this action, appellee demanded a hearing before the Board pursuant to the provisions of the Local Agency Law, Act of December 2, 1968, P.L. 1133, 53 P.S. § 11301 et seq. After the Board refused to honor his demand, appellee filed a complaint in mandamus in the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas seeking to compel the Board to provide a hearing. This complaint was accompanied by a motion for peremptory judgment pursuant to Pa. R.C.P. No. 1098. The Board filed preliminary objections in the
[ 28 Pa. Commw. Page 172]
nature of a demurrer, and, after argument, the court below issued an opinion and order dismissing the preliminary objections and granting appellee's motion for peremptory judgment. Thereafter, the Board filed a petition to open judgment,*fn2 which, after hearing, was denied and this appeal followed.
The Board contends that the court below erred in granting relief in mandamus inasmuch as the appellee had no clear legal right to a hearing, there was no corresponding duty in the Board, and an alternate and adequate remedy exists which appellee has failed to pursue.*fn3 Specifically, the Board argues that while the Local Agency Law is applicable to school districts,*fn4 there is no right to a hearing in this case because the suspension of a tenured professional employe due to decreased enrollment is not an "adjudication" nor is the appellee a "party" to any proceeding before the Board within the meaning of Section 2 of that statute, 53 P.S. § 11302, which provides, in pertinent part:
(1) 'Adjudication' means any final order, decree, decision, determination or ruling by a local agency affecting personal or property rights, privileges, immunities or obligations of any or all of the parties to the proceeding in which the adjudication is made. . . .
(3) 'Party' means any person who appears in a proceeding before a ...