Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Fayette County in case of Antoinette Platko, Patricia Stefancin, Edward J. Regula, Sharon Sementa, Joseph Zammerilli and Barbara Nemchik v. Laurel Highlands School District, No. 122 December Term, 1977.
Shelley W. Elovitz, with her Ronald N. Watzman, for appellants.
William M. Radcliffe, with him Coldren & Coldren, for appellee.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Rogers and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail. Judge DiSalle did not participate in the decision in this case.
[ 49 Pa. Commw. Page 211]
The Laurel Highlands School District (District) suspended Antoinette Platko, Patricia Stefancin, Edward J. Regula, Sharon Sementa, Joseph Zammerilli, and Barbara Nemchik (collectively, Appellants) due to a substantial decline in pupil enrollment. Several hearings were held by the District pursuant to the Local Agency Law*fn1 (Law) and the suspensions were
[ 49 Pa. Commw. Page 212]
affirmed. An appeal was taken to the Court of Common Pleas of Fayette County where the suspensions were affirmed. This appeal followed.
Appellants contend (1) that the lower court erred in finding that there was substantial evidence to support the conclusion that a substantial decline in pupil enrollment had occurred, (2) that the lower court erred in failing to find that the suspensions constitute a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between District and the Laurel Highlands Education Association, and (3) that the lower court erred in upholding the procedure used by the District to realign faculty and decide which employees should be suspended.
We must affirm the action of the District unless we find that Appellants' constitutional rights have been violated, that the District failed to act according to law or failed to conform to procedural requirements, or that the findings of the District are not supported by substantial evidence. Section 754 of the Law, 2 Pa. C.S. § 754.
A careful review of the record shows that the opinion of the trial court is correct as to Appellants Platko, Stefancin, Sementa, Zammerilli, and Nemchik.
The parties agree that where a substantial decrease in pupil enrollment occurs in a school district, the school board (Board) may suspend the necessary number of professional employees for any cause permitted by the Public School Code, Act of March 10, 1949, P.L. 30, as amended, 24 P.S. § 11-1124. The issue then is whether there is substantial evidence in the record to support the Board's finding, affirmed by the trial court, that there was a substantial decrease in enrollment. The record shows that over a seven year period there was a ...