Appeal from the Order of the Secretary of Education in the case of Gloria Brown and Joseph Madzelan v. Chester Upland School District, Teacher Tenure Appeal No. 20-80.
Leo Hackett, Fronefield and DeFuria, for petitioner.
No appearance for respondents.
Judges Rogers, Craig and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 67 Pa. Commw. Page 541]
Chester Upland School District petitions for review of a decision by the Secretary of Education which reversed its Board of School Director's action demoting Gloria Brown and Joseph Madzelan (employees) and remanded the case with directions to reconvene the demotion hearing to consider expert testimony on alternative approaches to budget reduction.
The district had notified the employees in June of 1980 that their positions as middle-school vice-principals were to be eliminated as a result of declining enrollment, economic conditions in the district and the realignment of administrative staff. Pursuant to
[ 67 Pa. Commw. Page 542]
Sections 1151 and 1127 of the Public School Code of 1949 (Code),*fn1 the board held three meetings to consider testimony on the employees' appeal from the decision.
The employees then appealed the board's adjudication upholding the elimination of the positions to the Secretary of Education, who held that: (1) the board's decision was amply supported by the evidence and was not an arbitrary or capricious exercise of its discretion, and (2) the board considered the eliminations and reassignments individually on a consolidated basis, according the employees full opportunity to present their arguments without prejudice.
However, on review before the Secretary, the employees also claimed that they were denied a full and fair hearing because the board had sustained an objection to the testimony of their expert witness, who was not permitted to answer a question by the employees' counsel as to whether the budget cut could be accomplished in some other manner.
The Secretary of Education held that the exclusion of the proffered testimony "resulted in a detriment and unfairness to the [employees] in the presentation of their case to the School Board."
On the basis of his conclusion that the hearing did not meet the fundamental requirements of due process for demoted or dismissed professional employees, the Secretary remanded the case to the ...