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CATHERINE R. ORTIZ ET AL. v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (04/24/79)

decided: April 24, 1979.

CATHERINE R. ORTIZ ET AL., PETITIONERS
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW, RESPONDENT. BARBARA SCHNEYER ET AL., PETITIONERS V. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW, RESPONDENT



Appeals from the Orders of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in cases of In Re: Claim of Catherine R. Ortiz, No. B-143668 and Claim of Barbara Schneyer et al., No. B-146668.

COUNSEL

Thomas W. Jennings, with him Leonard M. Sagot, and, of counsel, Sagot & Jennings, for appellants.

Michael D. Klein, Assistant Attorney General, with him Gerald Gornish, Acting Attorney General, for appellee.

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

Author: Blatt

[ 42 Pa. Commw. Page 236]

The appeals of Barbara Schneyer, Catherine Ortiz and other similarly situated non-tenured teachers*fn1 from the denial of unemployment compensation benefits by the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) have been consolidated for purposes of argument and decision by this Court. Ms. Ortiz was denied benefits on the basis that she had a contract to perform services for the upcoming academic year and thus was disqualified under Section 203(b) of the Emergency Jobs and Unemployment Assistance Act of 1974,*fn2 and both Ms. Schneyer and Ms. Ortiz were found to be unavailable for work without limitation in accordance with Section 401(d) of the Unemployment Compensation Law*fn3 (Act).

Both appellant-Schneyer and appellant-Ortiz were full-time non-tenured teachers who had been employed for one year by the Philadelphia School District. In Ms. Schneyer's case, the Philadelphia School Board advised her in April that, because of the reduction in student enrollment and her related lack of seniority, she would be reassigned in June to another school for the following term. She subsequently received a second

[ 42 Pa. Commw. Page 237]

    letter which indicated that at that time the School Board did not have positions to offer all of the affected teachers but that she should give the school district her summer address so that at a future date she could be contacted for reassignment if sufficient positions became available. In mid-August, approximately one week before school was scheduled to commence, she was instructed to report to the administration building where the school district attempted to match her and other displaced teachers with vacancies. She then did receive a teaching position for the upcoming school year. In the case of Ms. Ortiz, she was advised some time in the spring by the principal at the school where she taught, that due to the decline in student enrollment, it was unknown if she would have a teaching position at that school in the fall, and it was not until the first day of the fall term that it was ascertained she would remain teaching at that school. Both of these appellants applied for Special Unemployment Assistance (SUA) benefits which were denied by the Bureau of Employment Security, the referee and the Board. This appeal followed.

The first issue is whether or not appellant-Schneyer had a contract to return to work and was therefore properly disqualified from receiving unemployment compensation benefits under Section 203(b) of the Emergency Jobs and Unemployment Assistance Act of 1974.*fn4 This statute provides in pertinent part that benefits are denied to any individual in an instructional capacity between two successive academic years if:

(1) Such individual performed services in any such capacity for any educational institution or agency in the first of such academic years or terms; and

[ 42 Pa. Commw. Page 238]

(2) Such individual has a contract to perform services in any such capacity for any educational institution or agency for the latter ...


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