Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County in case of Jule Carmody, Kathleen Holmes, Ralph Imdorf, Victor Maestri, Gary S. Magakis, Phillip Prall and Elaine Trotta v. Board of Directors of the Riverside School District, No. 473 November Term, 1976.
W. Boyd Hughes, with him Hughes & Nicholls, for appellant.
Peter J. O'Brien, with him O'Brien and Miller, for appellees.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr. and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Wilkinson, Jr.
[ 47 Pa. Commw. Page 202]
This matter is before the Court on appeal by the Board of Directors (Board) of the Riverside School District (District) from the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County. The court of Common pleas, en banc, dismissed the Board's exceptions as to three of the four teachers common pleas Judge Walsh ordered reinstated with back-pay and benefits.
Due to a substantial decrease in pupil enrollment in the school district, the Board on June 29, 1976, eliminated
[ 47 Pa. Commw. Page 20311]
teaching positions for the school year 1976-77. Suspensions of 11 professional employees were made pursuant to Section 1124 of the Public School Code (Code) of 1949, Act of March 10, 1949, P.L. 30, as amended, 24 P.S. § 11-1124. Dr. Robert Clarke, the District superintendent of schools, suspended 11 teachers on July 22, 1976. Following refusal of a hearing by the District, seven of the suspended teachers commenced this action alleging that the District had failed to comply with Section 1125 of the Code, 24 P.S. § 11-1125.*fn1
At trial, one plaintiff withdrew, the court sustained a demurrer to the claim of a second plaintiff and found that a third plaintiff was properly suspended. The court found that the remaining four plaintiffs were improperly suspended and issued its reinstatement order. The Board appeals here the cases of three teachers.
Since the particular issues in the cases of the three teachers will be treated below, a preliminary overview of the procedure for suspending professional employees is useful. Section 1125 of the Code provides the method for making nondisciplinary suspensions. It reads in pertinent part:
(a) Whenever a board of school directors decreases the size of the staff of professional employes, the ...