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FOX CHAPEL AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT v. JOANNE DUNLAP (08/14/80)

decided: August 14, 1980.

FOX CHAPEL AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT, APPELLANT
v.
JOANNE DUNLAP, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of Joanne Dunlap v. Fox Chapel Area School District, No. G.D. 79-15768, in Mandamus.

COUNSEL

J. Richard Lauver, with him John R. Dingess, Kirkpatrick, Lockhart, Johnson & Hutchison, for appellant.

John W. Fahnestock, Jr., for appellee.

Anthony D. Newman, for Amicus Curiae, Pennsylvania State Education Association.

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

Author: Mencer

[ 53 Pa. Commw. Page 480]

The Fox Chapel Area School District (District) appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, which directed the District to grant a leave of absence to Joanne Dunlap (Dunlap). We affirm.

Dunlap requested and was granted a leave of absence for the second half of the 1977-78 school term, pursuant to Section 1166 of the Public School Code of 1949 (Code), Act of March 10, 1949, P.L. 30, as amended, 24 P.S. § 11-1166. This leave started in February of 1978 and ended in June of 1978. Dunlap then worked the full school term of 1978-79 and thereafter requested a leave for the half term starting in August of 1979 and ending in January of 1980. This request was denied by the District, and Dunlap instituted a complaint in mandamus in the lower court. The lower court granted relief to Dunlap, and this appeal followed.

The resolution of this matter depends upon the interpretation of Section 1166, which provides, in pertinent part:

Any person employed in the public school system . . . who has completed ten (10) years of satisfactory service as a professional employe . . . shall be entitled to a leave of absence for restoration of health, study or travel, or, at the discretion of the board of school directors, for other purposes. . . . Such leave of absence shall be for a half or full school term or for two half school terms during a period of two years, at the option of such person. . . . (Emphasis added.)

The District argues that "year" means "calendar year," 1 Pa. C.S. § 1991, and that the two half term

[ 53 Pa. Commw. Page 481]

    leaves of absence, the first of which began in February of 1978 and the second of which ended in January of 1980, stretch over three calendar years and concludes, therefore, that Dunlap is not ...


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