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INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT COMPRISED WESTERN PORTIONS HAMLIN AND SERGEANT TOWNSHIPS v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (07/15/80)

decided: July 15, 1980.

INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT COMPRISED OF THE WESTERN PORTIONS OF HAMLIN AND SERGEANT TOWNSHIPS, MCKEAN COUNTY, PA., PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, RESPONDENT. SMETHPORT AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT, INTERVENOR



Appeal from the Order of the State Board of Education in case of In Re: Transfer of a newly created District of the Western Portions of Hamlin and Sergeant Townships, McKean County -- from Semthport Area School District to Kane Area School District, May 11, 1979.

COUNSEL

John D. Killian, Killian & Gephart, with him Michael P. Baker, Woods, Baker & Cleland, for petitioner.

Kathleen F. McGrath, Deputy Attorney General, with her Edward G. Biester, Jr., Attorney General, for respondent.

Murray R. Garber, for Smethport Area School District, intervenor.

Judges Wilkinson, Jr., MacPhail and Williams, Jr., sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Wilkinson, Jr.

Author: Wilkinson

[ 53 Pa. Commw. Page 39]

This is an appeal from the final decision of the State Board of Education (Board) denying the transfer of an independent school district from the Smethport Area School District (Smethport) to the Kane Area School District (Kane). We affirm.

On February 15, 1974, a majority of the taxable inhabitants of the then proposed Independent School District (hereinafter also referred to as Petitioner) comprised of the western portions of Hamlin and Sergeant Townships, McKean County, filed a petition with the Court of Common Pleas of McKean County seeking to have the territory established as an independent school district for the purpose of transferring that territory from Smethport to Kane, pursuant to

[ 53 Pa. Commw. Page 40]

Section 242.1 of the Public School Code of 1949 (Code), Act of March 10, 1949, P.L. 30, as amended, added by Section 1 of the Act of June 23, 1965, P.L. 139, as amended, 24 P.S. ยง 2-242.1. The Secretary of Education, by letter dated July 9, 1974 to the court of common pleas, approved the proposed transfer "from an educational standpoint", as required by Section 242.1 of the Code. On November 30, 1974 the court of common pleas entered an order denying the petition for creation of the Independent School District.

An appeal from that order was taken to this Court. We reversed the order of the court of common pleas and remanded the case for further proceedings. Establishment of Independent School District Consisting of The Western Portions of Hamlin and Sergeant Townships, 22 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 455, 349 A.2d 480 (1975). We there concluded that a court of common pleas, in its consideration of a petition filed under Section 242.1 of the Code, has only the limited role of determining whether there has been procedural compliance with the statutory provisions, including the requisite number of petitioners. Where the Secretary of Education has approved the petition "from an educational standpoint" and the court thereafter decrees the establishment of an independent school district, the court must determine and prorate the indebtedness, obligations, and state subsidies between and among the affected districts. On remand, the court of common pleas considered the procedural requirements of Section 242.1 of the Code, obtained another letter from the Secretary of Education approving the creation and transfer of the Independent School District from an educational standpoint, determined the amount of indebtedness and obligations that should be assumed by the Independent School District, prorated state subsidies between Smethport and Kane, and entered an order establishing the Independent

[ 53 Pa. Commw. Page 41]

School District for the sole purpose of transferring the ...


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