Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of Joseph Cadonic v. Northern Area Special Purpose Schools and North Allegheny School District, No. A.A. 1195 of 1978.
Bernard Markovitz, Markovitz and Vitti, for appellant.
Henry W. Ewalt, Brooks and Ewalt, for appellee, Northern Area Special Purpose Schools.
Alfred C. Maiello, for appellee, North Allegheny School District.
Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Blatt and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
The appellant, Joseph Cadonic, brings this appeal pursuant to Sections 751-754 of the Local Agency Law, 2 Pa. C.S. §§ 751-754, to challenge the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County which affirmed a decision by the Northern Area Special Purpose Schools Joint Committee suspending him from his position as a guidance counselor.
The Northern Area Special Purpose Schools (NASPS) is a jointure of nine school districts which was formed to provide the member districts with special educational programs, including vocational-technical education. In 1971, NASPS instituted a guidance consortium, funded on a year-to-year basis by federal grants, to offer guidance counselors in connection with the vocational programs, and the appellant, who was one of the seven guidance counselors hired at that time, has signed yearly contracts with NASPS ever since and is admittedly a professional employee as defined in Section 1101 of the Public School Code of 1949 (School Code), Act of March 10, 1949, P.L. 30, as amended, 24 P.S. § 11-1101(1). In the spring of 1977, NASPS learned that federal monies would no longer be available to fund the guidance consortium but that the member districts could receive funding themselves upon individual application, so it adopted a resolution terminating the guidance consortium after the 1977-78 school year, recommended to the individual districts that they apply for individual funding and notified the guidance counselors by letter of May 9, 1978, that their services would be terminated as of June 30, 1978.*fn1 On May
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, 1978, the appellant requested a hearing before the NASPS Joint Committee, which was granted, and also requested a hearing before the board of the North Allegheny School District, which was denied. At the first of two hearings held before the NASPS Joint Committee on June 27 and August 24, 1978, it was stipulated that the termination was actually a suspension under Section 1124 of the School Code, 24 P.S. § 11-1124, and after testimony was received NASPS upheld the suspension. An appeal was then taken to the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County which sustained appellee North Allegheny's motion to quash the appeal as to itself and affirmed the decision of NASPS, suspending the appellant.
Our scope of review where, as here, the lower court took no additional evidence, is to determine whether or not the necessary findings of fact made by NASPS are supported by substantial evidence, there was a manifest abuse of discretion or error of law by NASPS or there was a violation of the appellant's constitutional rights. Acitelli v. Westmont Hilltop School District, 15 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 214, 325 A.2d 490 (1974).
We have previously held, of course, that the suspension of a professional public school employee can be upheld only if it conforms to the requirements of Section 1124 of the School Code, 24 P.S. § 11-1124, which provides:
Any board of school directors may suspend the necessary number of professional employes, for any of the ...