Appeal from the Order of the Secretary of Education in case of Miriam Green v. Board of Directors of the Jenkintown School District, Teacher Tenure Appeal No. 12-80.
Meyer Simon, Green & Simon, for petitioner.
Peter F. Baughman, Cox & Baughman, for respondent.
Judges Rogers, Blatt and Williams, Jr., sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers. Judge Palladino did not participate in the decision in this case.
Miriam Green, a tenured professional employee of the Jenkintown School District, was, in April, 1980, demoted from her position as a full-time teacher and reassigned to teach a forty per cent course load with a commensurate decrease in pay as the result of the demonstration by students of insufficient interest in the courses for which she was then responsible including the gifted student program.
Thereafter, the appellant requested and was granted a hearing conducted by the board of school directors where she contended that the school district's action in demoting her was arbitrary and capricious and in disregard of the express legislative intent to protect tenured teachers in that her tenured status and length of service were not given serious consideration.*fn1
The appellant established at the hearing that several less senior and non-tenured professional employees of the district at the elementary school level had not been demoted although they occupied positions for which the appellant was qualified. Nevertheless, by a unanimous vote, the directors approved the demotion. The appellant timely appealed from this adjudication to the Secretary of Education who, without conducting further hearings, affirmed the action of the school directors' reasoning:
The language of case law limits the discretion of public school board in demotion matters only to the extent that a demotion will not stand if deemed arbitrary, capricious, or discriminatory. Where the demotion is based upon information and data indicating declining of course enrollment and a reduced need for teaching staff in the area of the professional employee's expertise, a decision to demote to meet such reduced needs does not appear to us to represent an arbitrary or capricious decision.
The appellant here renews her argument that the school directors were required by Section 1151 to give controlling weight in personnel actions involving demotion to the tenure status and length of service of the affected employee.
As the Secretary held, demotions of school employees pursuant to Section 1151 are presumptively valid, and an employee challenging such action has the burden of proving that the action was taken arbitrarily or upon improper considerations. Williams v. Abington School District, 40 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 535, 397 A.2d 1282 (1979); Sharon City School District v. Hudson, 34 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 278, 383 A.2d 249 (1978). At the hearing before the school ...