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SHAFFER v. BOARD OF SCH. DIRS. OF THE ALBERT GALLA

September 29, 1981

Elizabeth P. SHAFFER, William W. Shaffer, Daniel Everett Brangard, Aura Virginia Engle, Gary N. Cottrell, Susan Rae Moore, minors by their guardians, Betty J. Shaffer, Wanda R. Brangard, Pauline V. Layhew, Dolores Cottrell and Diana J. Moore, and in their own right, Plaintiffs,
v.
BOARD OF SCHOOL DIRECTORS OF the ALBERT GALLATIN AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT, Dorsey Clegg, Theodore Yankowski, Sarah Bartuch, Elroy Enlow, Charles King, John A. Kupas, Jr., George E. Lilly, Theodore G. Shaffer, Frank Sterle, individually and in their capacity as members of the Board of School Directors of the Albert Gallatin Area School District, Fayette County, Pa., and Michael E. Tippet, individually and in his capacity as Superintendent of the Albert Gallatin Area School District, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SIMMONS

FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND ORDER

Findings of Fact

 The Plaintiff, having filed its Complaint herein on August 7, 1980, alleging violations of the Plaintiffs' constitutional rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and seeking declaratory and injunctive relief; and Defendant, having appeared; and the Court having issued a preliminary injunction on March 11, 1981, of which findings of fact are incorporated herein and made a part hereof by reference; and the Court having heard additional testimony on the merits of a permanent injunction on June 3, 1981; and the Court having considered the matter and been duly advised, the Court makes the following findings of fact:

 1) The Defendant Board of School Directors has, pursuant to State Statute 24 P.S. § 1 et seq., established kindergarten for all eligible school children in the school district.

 3) The Defendant Board of School Directors approved a budget for the 1980-81 academic year that included substantial funds to bus kindergarten students from their homes to the remote school locations and return for both the morning and afternoon sessions, and that money was available for providing such two-way round trip transportation.

 4) Notwithstanding the allocation of such funds for round trip transportation of kindergarten students, the Defendant School Board, on July 17, 1980, indicated their intention not to utilize the allocated funds for round trip bussing and thus prevented their expenditure for that purpose.

 5) Barbara Lindeman, who is a member of the class of plaintiffs, has an income of $ 290.00 for a family of three, which equals or is less than the family's expenses for the necessities of life, and has no income remaining to provide for the transportation of her daughter to kindergarten.

 6) Diana Moore, who is a member of the class of plaintiffs, has an income of $ 630.65 per month for a family of five, which is less than or equals the family's expenses for the necessities of life, and has no income remaining to provide for the transportation of her daughter to kindergarten.

 7) Margaret Walkos, who is a member of the class of plaintiffs, has an income of $ 405.00 per month for a family of five, which equals or is less than the family's expenses for the necessities of life and has no income remaining and, unless her situation changes, will have no income available to provide for the transportation of her daughter to kindergarten in the 1981-82 academic year.

 8) Diana Moore, Barbara Lindeman and Margaret Walkos and their families, all live between five and six miles from the school building where their children would attend kindergarten and would not be able to walk to the school throughout the school year without endangering the well-being of their children.

 9) As a result of the refusal of the Defendant Board of School Directors to utilize allocated funds to provide round trip bus transportation for kindergarten children, the named and unnamed plaintiffs have been and shall be effectively precluded from attending kindergarten since the plaintiffs cannot provide an alternate means of transportation to and from the schools.

 10) The children of Diana Moore, Barbara Lindeman and Margaret Walkos participated in home bound Head Start programs for two years prior to being eligible for kindergarten.

 11) A Head Start program has positive social and intellectual benefits and starts a child on his educational experience.

 12) The interruption of one year between a limited home bound Head Start experience and the First Grade would be harmful to the essential continuity of a child's development.

 13) Children who have had kindergarten need less special education, participate in fewer remedial classes, continue in school longer, perform better on achievement tests and progress more rapidly than those who have not had kindergarten.

 14) The kindergarten experience involves the use of many and various teaching aids including games, puzzles, blocks, clay, crayons, records and cassettes which the named and unnamed Plaintiffs are not in a position to provide for their children at home in sufficient numbers to satisfy the requirements of kindergarten.

 15) Those children who, because of their financial ability to attend kindergarten, have a greater advantage than those who, because of their lack of financial ability, are not able to attend kindergarten.

 16) Kindergarten is an essential element of a thorough and efficient system of public education.

 CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND DISCUSSION

 For the reasons stated below, the Court concludes that the Plaintiffs and the class they represent are subject to policies and practices of Defendant School Board that deny them their right to due process and equal protection of the law as guaranteed them by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

 A. PLAINTIFFS' RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW

 It is well settled that systems and procedures established by governmental entities which impact upon significant rights and interests of citizens must be so structured as to insure that due process of law is accorded such citizens in any action taken affecting such rights and interests.

 The category of rights and interests to which such due process guarantees must be accorded is not limited to those fundamental rights set forth in the Constitution. Courts have recognized in a variety of situations the attachments of such guarantees to actions involving state-created rights. See Griffin v. Illinois, 351 U.S. 12, 76 S. Ct. 585, 100 L. Ed. 891 (1956) (provision of free transcripts for indigent criminal appellants) and Burns v. Ohio, 360 U.S. 252, 79 S. Ct. 1164, 3 L. ...


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