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PATRICIA RYLKE ET AL. v. PORTAGE AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT (02/28/77)

decided: February 28, 1977.

PATRICIA RYLKE ET AL., APPELLANTS,
v.
PORTAGE AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT



COUNSEL

Randall C. Rodkey, Abood, Rodkey & Eckel, Johnstown, for appellants.

Ferdinand F. Bionaz, Bionaz, Raptosh & McGlynn, Johnstown, for appellee.

William Fearen, Gen. Counsel, Pa. School Boards Assn., Harrisburg, for amicus curiae.

Leonard M. Sagot, Randall J. Sommovilla, Philadelphia, for Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Jones, C. J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case. Eagen, J., files a concurring opinion. Pomeroy, J., files a dissenting opinion.

Author: O'brien

[ 473 Pa. Page 483]

OPINION OF THE COURT

This appeal arises from a Commonwealth Court order which affirmed an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County. The original order dismissed appellants' complaint in mandamus upon appellee's preliminary objections in the nature of a demurrer.

Patricia Rylke, William Ramus and Janet Humphrey, individual appellants, are former professional employees

[ 473 Pa. Page 484]

    of appellee, Portage Area School District. Appellant Portage Area Education Association (the Association) is the certified bargaining representative for the professional employees of appellee.

The Association and appellee entered into a collective bargaining agreement covering the period from July 1, 1971 to June 30, 1973. The agreement established a four-step grievance procedure, with binding arbitration as the final step. The agreement also contained provisions relating to job security.

In May, 1973, the individual appellants were notified that they were being suspended at the end of the 1973 school year. Appellants filed a grievance, alleging that appellee had failed to comply with the required procedures mandated by the agreement in suspending the three individuals. The first three steps of the grievance procedure were followed; the Board, however, refused to submit the issue to binding arbitration.

On August 27, 1973, appellants filed a complaint in mandamus, which sought to have appellee submit the dispute to binding arbitration. Appellee filed preliminary objections, and on April 23, 1974, the court en banc dismissed appellants' complaint. The Commonwealth Court affirmed on July 7, 1975. Rylke v. Portage Schools, 20 Pa. Commw. 158, 341 A.2d 233 (1975). Appellants filed a timely petition for allowance of appeal, which this court granted on October 30, 1975.

The resolution of the instant dispute requires a three-step analysis. We must first determine what both parties intended to accomplish by incorporating certain sections of the Public School Code of 1949*fn1 (the School Code) into the collective bargaining agreement. Once the intent is determined, we must see if that intent can lawfully be effected. If it can, we must see if appellants'

[ 473 Pa. Page 485]

    complaint in mandamus stated a cause of action upon which relief could be granted.

The School Code gives a special status to professional employees, i. e. tenured teachers.*fn2 While a tenured teacher may always be dismissed for cause, 24 P.S. ยง 11-1122, the School Code limits the causes for which a tenured teacher may be suspended.*fn3 Furthermore, the School Code requires the employer-school district to consider professional evaluations and ...


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