Appeal from the Order of the Secretary of Education in case of Benjamin Blascovich, Petitioner v. Board of School Directors of Shamokin Area School District, Respondent, Teacher Tenure Appeal No. 4-78.
Peter J. O'Brien, of O'Brien and Miller, for petitioner.
Preston L. Davis, of Davis, Davis & Kaar, for respondent.
Judges Blatt, Craig and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig. Judge DiSalle did not participate in the decision in this case.
[ 49 Pa. Commw. Page 132]
On this appeal from an order by the Secretary of Education (secretary) dismissing petitioner Benjamin Blascovich's appeal from the decision of the Board of School Directors of the Shamokin Area School District (board) discharging him from his position as a professional employee, our scope of review is limited to a determination of whether the secretary committed an error of law or a manifest abuse of discretion, or whether petitioner's constitutional rights were violated. Bovino v. Board of Page 133} School Directors, Indiana Area School District, 32 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 105, 377 A.2d 1284 (1977).
After a hearing, the board had found and concluded that:
3. By his conduct in (a) assaulting seventh grade students on December 2, 1977; (b) continually violating school regulations concerning school discipline, corporal punishment and professional relationships with administrators and parents; and (c) disobeying numerous oral directions and explicit written instructions from his principal and superintendent prohibiting him from administering corporal punishment of any kind, Blascovich is guilty of cruelty, persistent negligence and persistent and willful violation of school laws, rules, regulations and policy.
7. The charges which are sustained are each independent, valid causes for termination of the employee's contract and any of them considered separately is sufficient to warrant dismissal.*fn1
Petitioner first contends that the board's findings were not supported by substantial evidence. "Substantial evidence is the relevant evidence a reasonable mind can accept as adequate to support a conclusion, and we as the reviewing court will not weigh conflicting testimony or judge the weight and credibility of the evidence." Bovino, supra, at 109, 377 A.2d at 1287.
For purposes of Section 1122 of the Public School Code of 1949 (code),*fn2 "cruelty" -- an approved cause
[ 49 Pa. Commw. Page 134]
for discharge of a professional employee -- has been defined as "the intentional and malicious infliction of physical suffering upon living creatures, particularly human beings . . . the wanton, malicious, and unnecessary infliction of pain upon the body, or the feelings and emotions; abusive treatment; . . . ." Caffas v. The Board of School Directors of ...