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SCHOOL DISTRICT PHILADELPHIA v. ROBERT ROCHESTER (09/19/79)

decided: September 19, 1979.

THE SCHOOL DISTRICT OF PHILADELPHIA, APPELLANT
v.
ROBERT ROCHESTER, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County in case of Robert Rochester v. The School District of Philadelphia, No. 2094 November Term, 1977.

COUNSEL

Robert H. Nuttal, for appellant.

Paul Auerbach, for appellee.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Mencer and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Crumlish, Jr.

Author: Crumlish

[ 46 Pa. Commw. Page 125]

The Philadelphia School District was ordered in a peremptory judgment entered in an action in mandamus by the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court to reinstate Robert Rochester to his former position as an "Executive Management Analyst" with full back pay and fringe benefits dating from the time of his termination.

On November 17, 1977, Rochester filed a complaint in mandamus alleging that he had been employed by the District as a "System Analyst" in 1971 and that in 1975 he signed a professional employee's contract for a position designated "Executive Management Analyst." On or about June 23, 1977, he received a letter from the District personnel office, terminating his employment effective June 30, 1977, "due to budget limitations in the 1977-78 General Fund Operating Budget, and the resulting curtailment or alteration of the educational program. . . ."

When Rochester received no written response from the Board to his repeated requests for a hearing, he brought suit in the court below. Alleging an inadequate remedy at law, he requested that a writ of mandamus issue ordering his immediate reinstatement with full back pay and benefits or, alternatively, that the Board be ordered to hold an immediate hearing on his appeal.

The District's answer, contesting Rochester's right to a hearing under Section 1121 of the Public School Code of 1949*fn1 (Public School Code), 24 P.S. ยง 11-1121,

[ 46 Pa. Commw. Page 126]

    denied the existence of a "professional employee" contract between Rochester and the District.

Rochester filed a motion for peremptory judgment, asserting his right as a professional employee to a pre-termination hearing as a matter of law. In reply, the District disputed his professional employee status, for the reasons that Rochester was not certified to teach; that he had never held a supervisory position; and that he had been tendered a standard form professional employee contract as a result of a clerical error. The District contended further that an administration hearing had been set in a letter, which reads in pertinent part:

Mr. Rochester is not a professional employe and therefore is not entitled to such a hearing. The School District is not obligated to provide any hearing for any non-professional employes who are terminated for budgetary reasons. However, we are providing, as a convenience to the employe, an administrative hearing determining whether the action taken by the School District was appropriate under the circumstances. . . . [T]he hearing has been scheduled ...


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