decided: February 14, 1977.
THE SCHOOL DISTRICT OF THE CITY OF PITTSBURGH. EDWARD SERGI, APPELLANT
Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of Edward Sergi v. The School District of the City of Pittsburgh, No. 1438 July Term, 1974.
Jerome DeRiso, with him Scarlata and DeRiso, for appellant.
Persifor S. Oliver, Jr., with him Justin M. Johnson, for appellee.
Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Rogers and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
[ 28 Pa. Commw. Page 577]
Edward Sergi (appellant), who was appointed an associate director of personnel of the Pittsburgh School District (School District) in September 1966, was told in October 1973, by the Superintendent of Schools (Superintendent) that the Board of Directors (Board) was considering terminating his position in the next fiscal year's budget. When the proposed
[ 28 Pa. Commw. Page 578]
budget was published, it provided for a reorganization of the School District and for a net reduction of forty-six employee positions, and, after a public hearing, it was adopted by the Board on November 30, 1973. On December 28, 1973 the appellant was informed that his position had been eliminated for reasons of economy and that he should not report for work after the end of that month. In May 1974 he filed a complaint in equity in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County contending that his employment had been improperly terminated and asking that the School District be ordered to reinstate him and pay damages. The School District's motion for summary judgment was granted by the lower court which then dismissed the complaint. This appeal followed.
Our scope of review in equity matters is limited to a determination of whether or not the court below abused its discretion or committed an error of law. Campbell v. Bethlehem Parking Authority, 20 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 445, 342 A.2d 114 (1975). The appellant argues here that (1) the lower court erred in granting the motion for summary judgment because there were triable issues of material fact, and (2) he was entitled to, but not given, a hearing under the provisions of the Local Agency Law*fn1 (Law).
It is well established that summary judgment may be entered only in cases where it is determined that there are no issues of material fact. Granthum v. Textile Machine Works, 230 Pa. Superior Ct. 199, 326 A.2d 449 (1974); Prince v. Pavoni, 225 Pa. Superior Ct. 286, 302 A.2d 452 (1973), and, in making such a determination, all doubts as to the existence of a genuine issue of material fact must be resolved against the moving party. Schacter v. Albert, 212 Pa. Superior Ct. 58,
[ 28 Pa. Commw. Page 579239]
A.2d 841 (1968). We have, therefore, examined the record here in the light most favorable to the appellant, but we believe that it supports the lower court's conclusion. What the appellant has described in his brief as issues of fact*fn2 are really questions of law which the lower court was free to rule on as it did in considering the School District's summary judgment motion.
As to appellant's argument that he had a right to a hearing under the Local Agency Law, we note that this law implements Section 9 of Article V of the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1968 and provides that no adjudication by a local agency as to any party is valid unless that person has been afforded reasonable notice of a hearing and an opportunity to be heard. We also note that we have previously recognized a school district as a local agency within the purview of this law. McDonald v. Penn Hills Township School Board, 7 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 339, 298 A.2d 612 (1972). The issue here is whether or not the dismissal for reasons of economy of an untenured, nonprofessional employe*fn3 by a school district is an adjudication
[ 28 Pa. Commw. Page 580]
under this Law, which provides in Section 2, 53 P.S. § 11302, that
(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 . . . . (Emphasis added.)
While we find no Pennsylvania precedent, the Supreme Court of the United States has held in Board of Regents v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564, 577 (1972), in examining the types of property interests protected by the procedural due process rights of the 14th Amendment, that:
Property interests . . . are not created by the Constitution. Rather, they are created and their dimensions are defined by existing rules or understandings that stem from an independent source such as state law -- rules or understandings that secure certain benefits and that support claims of entitlement to those benefits. (Emphasis added.)
We are persuaded, therefore, that the termination of the appellant's employment for economy reasons was an adjudication within the purview of the Local Agency Law only if he had an enforceable expectation of continued employment which has been guaranteed either by contract or by statute, and we find no such enforceable expectation.
This Court has held on numerous occasions that the provisions of the Local Agency Law apply to the dismissals, terminations, or suspensions of public employes
[ 28 Pa. Commw. Page 581]
whose right to continued employment is based on a statutory guarantee.*fn4 Here, however, the appellant was a nonprofessional employe, and the Public School Code of 1949*fn5 (Code) provides such employes with only limited statutory protection from dismissal under Section 514, 24 P.S. § 5-514, i.e., a board of school directors must give adequate notice and the opportunity for a hearing to any nonprofessional employe before terminating that employe's services for reasons of incompetency, intemperance, neglect of duty, violation of Commonwealth school laws or other improper conduct. It does not offer protection against terminations for reasons of economy. Consequently, we can find no statutory guarantee that would give rise to a property interest on the part of the appellant in continued employment with the School Board where reasons of economy dictate that dismissals must occur.*fn6 Moreover, we can find no evidence in the record of a contract with the School District which would give rise to such a property interest. We must hold, therefore, that termination of the appellant's employment by the School District for reasons of economy was not an adjudication as such is defined in the Local
[ 28 Pa. Commw. Page 582]
Agency Law and he was, therefore, not entitled to a hearing under that Law.
The order of the lower court is, therefore, affirmed.
And, Now, this 14th day of February, 1977, the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, dated January 16, 1976, is hereby affirmed.