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CATHERINE AUBREY ET AL. v. SCHOOL DISTRICT PHILADELPHIA (12/22/81)

decided: December 22, 1981.

CATHERINE AUBREY ET AL., APPELLANTS,
v.
SCHOOL DISTRICT OF PHILADELPHIA, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County in the case of Catherine Aubrey et al. v. School District of Philadelphia, No. 4317 June Term, 1979.

COUNSEL

John K. Weston, for appellants.

Andrew M. Rosen, Assistant Counsel, with him Eugene F. Brazil, General Counsel, for appellee.

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

Author: Craig

[ 63 Pa. Commw. Page 331]

Catherine Aubrey and her parents appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County which dismissed their complaint in trespass against the School District of Philadelphia.

During her senior year of high school, the district required Aubrey to attend a health education class which included coverage of sexual material, and to take an examination on that material. As a result of her grade on the exam, Aubrey failed the health course, and was not permitted to participate in graduation exercises with her class. After successfully completing a summer health course, Aubrey received a high school diploma.

[ 63 Pa. Commw. Page 332]

Aubrey and her parents filed a complaint seeking money damages for severe emotional distress and mental anguish, damage to reputation, damage to employment qualifications, and loss of time and wages. They alleged that the district's program: (1) expressly violated Section 1512 of the Public School Code of 1949,*fn1 because it was not adapted to the age, development, and needs of the pupils; (2) violated the Aubreys' parental rights to make a reasonable selection of the subjects to be studied by their child; (3) breached, without notice, the district's past course of conduct whereby students who failed the health class had participated in graduation ceremonies; (4) was arbitrarily conducted through the "grossly misleading and capriciously graded" examination; (5) deprived Aubrey of liberty and property interests without a hearing; and (6) invaded Aubrey's "right of privacy" under the 9th and 14th Amendments of the Constitution.

The district responded with preliminary objections in the nature of a general demurrer, asserting that the complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Judge Wilson agreed, stating:

Because of the public policy that money damage actions should not lie against a school district for its exercise of educational policy, because no action for money damages lies for educational malpractice, and because of the long line of cases that keeps the courts out of educational policy, this Court is compelled, and has dismissed plaintiffs' Complaint for failure to state a cause of action.

The Aubreys contend that the court's reliance on the educational malpractice doctrine is misplaced; claiming that those cases are limited to allegations of negligence, ...


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