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LEILA CHRISTOFFEL ET AL. v. SHALER AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT ET AL. (06/11/81)

decided: June 11, 1981.

LEILA CHRISTOFFEL ET AL., APPELLANTS
v.
SHALER AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT ET AL., APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of Leila Christoffel, Joseph Christoffel, Carol Powers, Florence Stauber Milton Stauber, Nancy Basi, Judy Burns, Kathy Cannon, Marie Carricato, Myra Davis, Joann DiGalbo, Patricia Dilo, Joanne Ferraro, Kathy Goral, Tom Goral, Bea Grenda, Tony Grenda, Betty Hackett, Christine F. Heck, Pauline Kahn, Joanne Macecevic, Marilyn Moeller, Joan Moore, John Moore, Irene Nist, Linda Oleksak, Judy Raible, Lucille Reuss, Shirley Scott, William Scott, Terry Siriano, Ann Wetzel, Edward Wetzel v. Shaler Area School District, a political subdivision, Robert Anderson, Rick Cessar, Jr., Helen Hrabar, Francene Juran, Charles Kaib, L. Frances Mitesser, William Schofield, Ralph Scobbo, and Stanley Szafranski, No. GD 80-16056, Civil Division, In Equity.

COUNSEL

Dina G. McIntyre, McIntyre & McIntyre, with her, Ronald H. Heck, for appellants.

Thomas M. Rutter, Jr., Goehring, Rutter & Boehn, for appellees, individually.

James D. Zimmer & Dice, for appellee, Shaler Area School District.

President Judge Crumlish and Judges Rogers and Williams, Jr., sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.

Author: Rogers

[ 60 Pa. Commw. Page 18]

Parents of school-age children in the Shaler Area School District sought injunctive relief in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in the form of an order setting aside and declaring invalid the 1980-1981 school budget because it makes no provision for the retention of five principal's aides then employed in the district schools. A preliminary objection in the nature of a demurrer*fn1 was interposed by the district and sustained by the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County.

The factual allegations of the complaint are that the district was, some eight years earlier, experiencing serious difficulty in maintaining an atmosphere conducive to effective teaching. These difficulties included the sale and use of illicit drugs on school property by students and trespassing outsiders, extortionate

[ 60 Pa. Commw. Page 19]

    threats upon younger and smaller students, and incidents of arson, vandalism and assault. In response to these threats to the well-being of its charges, the school board in 1973 hired five principal's aides to act as nonuniformed security personnel and to assist with student discipline. Two of these individuals were, as of the 1979-1980 school year, stationed at the Senior High School, one at the Junior High School, and two at the Intermediate School. It was further alleged that the principal's aides were responsible for a marked improvement of conditions in the schools, that the incidents just described have ceased or greatly decreased in number, and that the principal's aides "constituted a reasonable and effective means of controlling and deterring criminal and unlawful conduct in the secondary schools of the School District." On May 1, 1980, the board adopted a proposed budget which did not include funds for the retention of the principal's aides. Thereafter, parents had petitioned the board to reconsider its decision and, on June 12, 1980, a hearing was conducted by the board at which time parents and one of the aides stated their opposition to the proposed discontinuance of the positions. Another meeting was held on June 25, 1980, where the board received more comments on this issue, including a statement by an officer of the Shaler Township Police Department that the services provided by the principal's aides were still needed. Finally, it was alleged that by a vote of five to four, the board adopted a resolution calling for the elimination of the principal's aides' positions.

The court below determined that these allegations did not state a cause for the relief requested. An injunction will issue only when the rights of the plaintiff are clear, there is an urgent necessity to avoid injury which cannot be compensated for by damages, and greater injury will be done by refusing it than by

[ 60 Pa. Commw. Page 20]

    granting it. Berman v. Philadelphia, 425 Pa. 13, 228 A.2d 189 (1967). Moreover, the relief requested is, in effect, mandatory since it is intended to require the board to rehire five employees and it is well established that such mandatory relief should be sparingly granted. McMullan v. Wohlgemuth, 444 Pa. 563, 281 A.2d 836 (1971). In addition, plaintiffs seeking to upset the decisions of elected ...


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