No. 2261 Oct. Term 1978, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, Civil Action -- Law, at No. 129 June Term, 1972 in Assumpsit.
Sydney H. Weiss, Phoenixville, for appellant.
Robert W. Barton, Harrisburg, for appellee.
Price, Spaeth and Lipez, JJ.
[ 267 Pa. Super. Page 464]
This is an appeal from an order refusing to grant a new trial. Appellant asserts that appellee is not entitled to the damages awarded him by the jury.
Appellee started the action on June 21, 1972, by filing a praecipe for writ of summons. On July 7 appellant entered its appearance, and on October 10 appellee filed a complaint in assumpsit, which may be summarized as follows.
During the 1958-59 school year appellee was employed by East Pikeland Township School District as a teacher under a professional employee contract. His employment continued through the 1965-66 school year, at which time he was paid $11,000 for ten and one-half months service. On July 1, 1966, the school districts of East Pikeland Township, Schuylkill Township, and Phoenixville Borough were consolidated to form the appellant school district. During the 1966-67 school year, appellee was employed by appellant for twelve months service at a salary of $11,400, despite his protests that this salary be prorated and adjusted in accordance with his prior salary level. During the 1967-68 school year appellant increased appellee's salary to $12,200 for twelve months service, but again denied appellee's request for a salary proration and adjustment. Appellee received no salary increase for the school years 1968-69 and 1969-70. Beginning in the 1969-70 school year appellee was assigned as a supervisor at the East Pikeland Elementary School. His salary was increased to $12,940 for the 1970-71 school year, but was not increased further during the next two school years, even though appellee was awarded a Ph.D. in Education in 1971. In 1971 the salary schedule established by appellant for its employees provided for a salary of $13,990 for only nine and one-half months service for persons having appellee's qualifications and years of experience. Since July 1966 appellant has employed persons in supervisory positions at salaries exceeding appellee's. Some of these persons received salary increases each school year between 1964-65
[ 267 Pa. Super. Page 465]
and 1971-72 at rates exceeding appellee's. Furthermore, six of appellant's employees holding positions inferior to appellee's received salaries in excess of his during the 1971-72 school year. Appellee is certified as an elementary teacher, elementary principal, supervising principal, assistant to the superintendent for business affairs, and superintendent. He has received a satisfactory rating each year he has been employed by appellant. Yet, some of the persons appellant employed at salaries exceeding appellee's were uncertificated, and appellant has forfeited $15,000 in state subsidies as a result. These actions were arbitrary and capricious, and constituted a demotion of appellee in both salary and type of position contrary to the provision of the Public School Code Act of 1949, Act of March 10, 1949, P.L. 30, as amended, 24 P.S. §§ 11-1150, 1151, and contrary to the due process and equal protection clauses of the United Stated Constitution. As a result, appellee has lost $30,775 in expected salary increases, and has been denied the professional and personal status and reputation he would have otherwise enjoyed.
Appellant did not file a timely answer to this complaint, and on February 13, 1973, a judgment by default was entered. Appellant filed a petition to open the judgment. The lower court granted the petition, but in Jost v. Phoenixville Area School District, 237 Pa. Super. 153, 346 A.2d 333 (1975), this court reversed. Thereafter, a jury trial was held to determine the amount of appellee's damages. The jury rendered a verdict in appellee's favor in the amount of $73,161, $30,775 of this amount being for lost salary increases, $7,386 for interest, and $35,000 for injury to appellee's status and reputation. Appellant filed a post-verdict motion for a new trial. The lower court denied the motion, and this appeal followed.
Appellee's action is based primarily on the provisions of the Public School Code Act of 1949.*fn1 ...