Appeal from the Order of the Secretary of Education in case of In Re: Appeal of Anthony J. Bovino, dated July 6, 1976.
Bart M. Beier, for petitioner.
Robert W. Lambert, for respondent.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Judge Kramer did not participate in this decision. Opinion by Judge Crumlish, Jr. Judge Kramer did not participate in the decision in this case. See Pa. R.a.p. 3102(d).
[ 32 Pa. Commw. Page 107]
This is an appeal by Anthony J. Bovino (Bovino), a tenured professional employe, from a decision of the Secretary of Education dated July 6, 1976, which sustained the dismissal of Bovino by the Board of School Directors of Indiana School District.
The Petitioner, Bovino, was a teacher of foreign languages in the Indiana School District from 1970 until February of 1975. Bovino attained tenure status at the close of the 1971-72 school year.
In January of 1975 and again in February of 1975 Bovino made several comments to a female ninth-grade student which led to the filing of charges against Bovino by the School Board for his dismissal under Section 1122 of the Public School Code of 1949 (Code).*fn1 The young female student reported to her mother Bovino's alleged statements. On February 18, 1975, the mother of the child instituted criminal charges for harassment of her child by Bovino before the local district magistrate. The following day the Superintendent of the Indiana School District suspended Bovino without pay. On March 24, 1975, the School Board initiated numerous charges against Bovino. The gravamen of the charges was that Bovino's statements to the student were of such a nature as to constitute "immoral" and "cruel" conduct which would be grounds for the termination of Bovino's contract
[ 32 Pa. Commw. Page 108]
with the Indiana Area School District under the aforementioned Section 1122 of the Code.
On the first occasion Bovino called a fourteen-year-old female student a "slut." At the hearings the student testified that she was extremely embarrassed by the statement made to her by Bovino and, further, she could not understand why he had called her a "slut." This incident was witnessed by another student.
The second incident occurred in Bovino's classroom where he implied to the same female student that she was a "prostitute." The remarks which Bovino made to the female student in the classroom were corroborated by fellow students seated near her.
There were two hearings convened by the School Board on the charges against Bovino and the testimony taken at those hearings was comprehensive. After the termination of the final hearing the School Board voted 8-0 that Bovino had committed two separate acts of "immorality" and "cruelty" with respect to the fourteen-year-old female student. The remaining charges against Bovino were dismissed as the Board concluded that there was not substantial evidence to support them.
On May 6th the Board notified Bovino that he was dismissed. On appeal to the Secretary of Education, the Board's decision was upheld. Bovino appealed from the decision of the Secretary to this Court and contends as one of his grounds for reversal that the hearings before the Board of School Directors were not fair, impartial and unbiased.
Under the Code, review by this Court of the Secretary's adjudication in the dismissal of a professional employe is to determine whether the Secretary committed an error of law or a manifest abuse of discretion. Department of Education v. Great Valley ...