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J. KAREN ARNOLD v. PITTSBURGH BOARD PUBLIC EDUCATION (06/24/80)

decided: June 24, 1980.

J. KAREN ARNOLD, APPELLANT
v.
PITTSBURGH BOARD OF PUBLIC EDUCATION, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of J. Karen Arnold v. Pittsburgh Board of Education, No. G.D. 78-13135.

COUNSEL

Joseph A. Vater, Jr., Meyer, Unkovic & Scott, for appellant.

David H. Dille, Assistant Solicitor, with him Persifor S. Oliver, Jr., Assistant Solicitor, for appellee.

Judges Mencer, Blatt and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.

Author: Blatt

[ 52 Pa. Commw. Page 314]

J. Karen Arnold (appellant) appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County which dismissed her complaint in mandamus against the Pittsburgh Board of Public Education (Board).

The appellant was employed for the 1973-1974 school year as a temporary professional employee in the Pittsburgh school district. During that period she received two unsatisfactory-performance ratings. She was therefore asked to meet with the school district personnel officer in June of 1974, and she was told at this meeting that she had the option of resigning or being discharged. She thereafter submitted her resignation, effective June 14, 1974. In 1975, 1976 and 1977, she was employed by the school district as a substitute teacher, and her repeated requests

[ 52 Pa. Commw. Page 315]

    during that period for reinstatement as a temporary professional employee were rejected. On July 7, 1978, she filed a complaint in mandamus against the Board to compel it to grant her a hearing under the Local Agency Law*fn1 so that she could contest her previous unsatisfactory-performance ratings. The court dismissed her complaint, ruling that, because she had voluntarily resigned, she was not entitled to a hearing.

The appellant argues here that the Board should be required to hold a hearing on her unsatisfactory-performance ratings because she was misled as to the consequences of her resigning. She asserts, as she testified in the court below, that she resigned only because she was led by the personnel officer to believe that future satisfactory performance as a substitute teacher would result in her being reinstated as a temporary professional employee. Alternatively, she argues that her resignation was in fact involuntary and therefore equivalent to a discharge, which entitles her to a hearing.

The circumstances surrounding the appellant's resignation presented a factual question which was resolved by the court below. It found that she voluntarily resigned in order to avoid the adverse consequences of being discharged; it rejected her testimony that she was induced to resign by misrepresentations on the part of the personnel officer. The testimony of the witnesses was, as the appellant emphasizes, conflicting, but the fact-finder is the arbiter of credibility. There is substantial evidence in the record to support the court's findings, and we must therefore accept them. Spano v. School District of Brentwood, 12 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 170, 316 A.2d

[ 52 Pa. Commw. Page 316162]

(1974); Venneri v. County of Allegheny, 12 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 517, ...


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