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FRED J. PENZENSTADLER v. AVONWORTH SCHOOL DISTRICT (06/27/79)

decided: June 27, 1979.

FRED J. PENZENSTADLER, APPELLANT
v.
AVONWORTH SCHOOL DISTRICT, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of Appeal of Fred J. Penzenstadler From Avonworth School District Board of School Directors Public Agency Hearing of 4/21/77, No. SA 946 of 1977.

COUNSEL

Ronald N. Watzman, for appellant.

John F. Meck, with him William McC. Houston, and Houston, Houston & Donnelly, for appellee.

Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Blatt and DiSalle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Wilkinson, Jr.

Author: Wilkinson

[ 43 Pa. Commw. Page 572]

This is an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County which sustained the suspension of appellant, a tenured professional

[ 43 Pa. Commw. Page 573]

    employee, by the Avonworth School District (appellee) pursuant to Sections 1124 and 1125 of the Public School Code of 1949 (Code).*fn1 We affirm.

Following approval by the Department of Education (Department),*fn2 the Board of School Directors (Board) on June 23, 1976 adopted a resolution approving the elimination of five elementary teaching positions due to declining enrollments and also curtailment of the secondary education program, including the elimination of German, due to a substantial decline in course enrollment. Appellant, who was certified to teach only German at the time of the recommended curtailment, was thus subject to suspension pursuant to Sections 1124 and 1125 of the Code; however, the Board deferred action on this suspension until July 12, 1976 because the appellant had advised appellee's Superintendent that he expected to obtain additional certification in English.*fn3 On July 12, 1976 the Board suspended appellant upon the recommendation

[ 43 Pa. Commw. Page 574]

    of the Superintendent that no notice of a change in certification had been received. Appellant then filed a timely request for a hearing and following this Court's decision in Fatscher v. Board of School Directors, Springfield School District, 28 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 170, 367 A.2d 1130 (1977), a hearing was held on April 21, 1977 pursuant to the Local Agency Law.*fn4

At the hearing, appellant testified that he had completed all of the course work for those courses required for his certification in English on June 9, 1976; that his faculty advisor had endorsed his application for certification on June 10 and so informed appellee's Superintendent; and that he had received a letter from the University of Pittsburgh stating that his application had been endorsed and forwarded to the Department on July 7. The appellant further testified that he had been advised by the Superintendent to go to Harrisburg to personally obtain his certification from the Department, but that he (appellant) "didn't feel it was necessary." The appellant received his certification in English from the Department indicating an issuance date of "7/76" by mail on August 17, 1976.

Appellant first contends there was insufficient evidence submitted at the hearing to justify the Board's finding that enrollments in German had substantially declined. The statutory authority to suspend professional employees is found ...


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