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SCHOOL DISTRICT PHILADELPHIA v. HARRIS TWER ET AL. (04/10/79)

decided: April 10, 1979.

THE SCHOOL DISTRICT OF PHILADELPHIA, PETITIONER
v.
HARRIS TWER ET AL., RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Secretary of Education in cases of Harris Twer v. The School District of Philadelphia, Teacher Tenure Appeal No. 16-77; William Kabakjian v. The School District of Philadelphia, Teacher Tenure Appeal No. 18-77; and Henry Altschuler et al. v. The School District of Philadelphia, Teacher Tenure Appeal, No. 21-77.

COUNSEL

Vincent J. Salandia, with him Eugene F. Brazil, for petitioner.

Barry J. Wohlman and Leonard M. Sagot, with them Joseph S. Hocky, and, of counsel, Sagot & Jennings, for respondents.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr., Rogers, Blatt, DiSalle and Craig. Judges Mencer and MacPhail did not participate. Opinion by Judge Rogers. Concurring Opinion by Judge Crumlish, Jr.

Author: Rogers

[ 41 Pa. Commw. Page 571]

The Board of Education of the School District of Philadelphia has appealed from an order of the Secretary of Education directing it to reinstate, without loss of pay, all professional employees who had been demoted by a School Board resolution adopted June 30, 1977. We affirm the Secretary's order.

In the throes of its perennial funding difficulty, the Board of Education on May 31, 1977 adopted a budget providing for a reduction in annual expenses of $173,000,000. To meet this requirement, the School Board decided to lay off approximately 10,000 employees and to demote an additional 240. On the morning of June 30, 1977, the School Board conducted

[ 41 Pa. Commw. Page 572]

    what it calls a joint hearing for all of the professional employees scheduled for demotion. The event was in fact, however, only a meeting of representatives of the School Board with the employees at which the former explained why the demotions were necessary. On the afternoon of the same day the School Board adopted a resolution effecting the demotions and providing that individual hearings would be arranged for persons who requested them but that the determinations of the School Board made after such hearings would have effect retroactive to June 30, 1977.

The appellees here appealed the School Board's actions of June 30, 1977 to the Secretary of Education who held that the demotions were not valid because the School Board had failed to comply with the requirements of Sections 1127 and 1151 of the Public School Code of 1949, Act of March 10, 1949, P.L. 30, as amended, 24 P.S. ยงยง 11-1127 and 11-1151. As we have noted, the Secretary ordered the demoted professional employees to be reinstated without loss of pay.

The School Board does not contend that the Secretary erred in holding that the "joint hearing" conducted on the morning of June 30, 1977 did not satisfy the procedural requirements of Sections 1127 and 1151 of the Code; it says that the Secretary erred after so concluding in ordering reinstatement without loss of pay rather than remanding the matter to the School Board for the conduct of individual hearings. In support of its argument that remand was the proper remedy, the School Board cites Commonwealth Department of Education v. Oxford Area School District, 24 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 421, 356 A.2d 857 (1976), where we wrote:

While we agree with the Secretary's determination that a violation of the statutory procedure has occurred, we do not agree that he properly ...


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