Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County in case of David S. Swartley v. The Norristown Area School District, No. 78-6905.
Richard W. Rogers, of Rogers, King & Cole, for appellant.
Thomas C. Lowery, with him Philip R. Detwiler and Maerz, Bresnan & Detwiler, for appellee.
Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Wilkinson, Jr.
[ 51 Pa. Commw. Page 122]
Appellant brings this appeal to challenge the propriety of his dismissal by the Norristown Area School District (District). The Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County sustained the District's preliminary objection in the nature of a demurrer to appellant's Local Agency Law*fn1 appeal. We reverse.
Appellant received a letter from the principal of Norristown Area High School dated April 12, 1978 informing him that as of April 14, 1978 his employment as Assistant Facilities Manager at the high school was suspended without pay. The letter also indicated that a recommendation would be made to the Board of School Directors (board) for termination of appellant's
[ 51 Pa. Commw. Page 123]
employment because of insubordination.*fn2 No further communication from the District was received by appellant until a letter dated April 25, 1978 from the Director of Personnel advising appellant the board had acted to terminate his employment effective April 14, 1978. Appellant promptly filed his appeal to the court of common pleas on April 28, 1978.
Section 514 of the Public School Code of 1949 (Code), Act of March 10, 1949, P.L. 30, as amended, 24 P.S. § 5-514 provides the non-professional school employee, such as appellant, with certain limited protection from dismissal. Specifically Section 514 provides that
[t]he board of school directors . . . shall after due notice, giving the reasons therefor, and after hearing if demanded, have the right at any time to remove any of its officers, employes, or appointees for incompetency, intemperance, neglect of duty, violation of any of the school laws of this Commonwealth, or other improper conduct.
The common pleas court sustained the District's preliminary objection because of appellant's failure to demand a hearing. The court erred in focusing on this aspect of Section 514 for it is apparent that before any opportunity to request a hearing can arise there must be proper notice of school board action.
The April 12, 1978 letter from the high school principal, which the District argues constituted due notice, opened ...