No. 80-1-137, Appeal from Order of the Commonwealth Court at No. 952 C.D. 1979
Thomas W. Scott, Killian & Gephart, Harrisburg, for appellant.
Ira Weiss, Goldman, Weiss & Gross, P. C., Pittsburgh, for appellee.
Michael I. Levin, Cleckner & Fearen, Kent H. Patterson, Harrisburg, for amicus curiae Pa. School Boards Ass'n.
O'Brien, C. J., and Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, Kauffman and Wilkinson, JJ.
This appeal is from an order of the Commonwealth Court which reversed a decision of the Secretary of Education and upheld the dismissal of appellant, Matthew V. Strinich, a tenured teacher, by appellee, the Clairton School District.
In January, 1978, appellant was notified that the school district was seeking to dismiss him from his position as a tenured teacher because of appellant's persistent negligence. The School Code of 1949*fn1 provides:
"The only valid causes for termination of a contract . . . entered into with a professional employe shall be immorality, incompetency, intemperance, cruelty, persistent negligence, mental derangement, advocation of or participating in un-American or subversive doctrines, persistent and wilful violation of the school laws of this Commonwealth on the part of the professional employe . . .".
24 P.S. § 11-1122 (emphasis added). On February 2, 1978, a hearing on the charges was held before the Clairton Board of School Directors [Board] as required by the School Code. 24 P.S. § 11-1127. Following the hearing the Board voted to dismiss appellant who then appealed to the Secretary of Education pursuant to § 11-1131 of the School Code, which provides:
"In case the professional employe concerned considers himself . . . aggrieved by the action of the board of school directors, an appeal, by petition, setting forth the grounds for such appeal, may be taken to the Superintendent of Public Instruction [now the Secretary of Education] at Harrisburg.
"The [Secretary of Education] shall review the official transcript of the record of the hearing before the board, and may hear and consider such additional testimony as he may deem advisable to enable him to make a proper order. . . .
"After hearing and argument and reviewing all the additional testimony filed or taken before him, the [Secretary of Education] shall enter an order, either affirming or reversing the action of the board of ...