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decided: August 26, 1982.


Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of Sandra L. Horgan, Gloria Ann Postcavage, John Suszynski, Howard Duerr, William Palmero, Jeffrey Kunzelman, Eugene Chieffo, Mark Roman, Glen Bednar, Carolyn T. Lee, Victor Janosick, Thaddeus P. Chiechenowski, Valeri Kinlan, Gregory Sembrat, Kenneth Slish and Inez Ferchak v. Sto-Rox School District, No. SA 905 of 1980.


Larry P. Gaitens, Larry P. Gaitens, P.C., for appellant, Sto-Rox School District.

Ronald N. Watzman, Watzman & Elovitz, for appellees, Sandra L. Horgan et al.

William Fearen, with him Michael I. Levin, Cleckner and Fearen, for Amicus Curiae, Pennsylvania School Boards Association.

President Judge Crumlish and Judges Rogers and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr. Judges Mencer and Palladino did not participate in the decision in this case.

Author: Crumlish

[ 68 Pa. Commw. Page 418]

Sixteen professional employes (teachers) from the Sto-Rox School District appeal an Allegheny County Common Pleas Court order which affirmed in part and reversed in part a School Board Adjudication suspending them for the 1978-1979 school year. The School District cross-appealed and both appeals were consolidated for argument. We affirm in part and reverse and remand in part.

On June 23, 1978, a School Board resolution called for the suspension of 16 secondary teachers from the Sto-Rox School District. The teachers requested a hearing before the Board pursuant to Section 4 of the Local Agency Law;*fn1 these hearings were held on February 3, June 30, and October 17, 1979. The Board issued its Adjudication on July 29, 1980, concluding that, due to a substantial decline in student enrollment, suspension of the professional employes was necessary under Article XI, Section 1224 of the Public School Code of 1949.*fn2 The Board, then concluding that the suspension of these teachers on the basis of seniority was appropriate, sustained the suspensions.

[ 68 Pa. Commw. Page 419]

Both parties assert error in the lower court's disposition of the appeal. Section 8 of the Local Agency Law*fn3 limits our scope of review, requiring us to affirm the Board and the court below unless we find a violation of constitutional rights, an error of law or manifest abuse of discretion, or that a necessary finding of fact is not supported by substantial evidence. Gabriel v. Trinity School District, 22 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 620, 350 A.2d 203 (1976).

The teachers contend that the adjudication before the Board violated their constitutional right to due process of law since they were afforded no pre-determination hearing and the post-suspension hearings were unduly delayed.

In support of their position for a predetermination hearing, the teachers cite two federal cases: Skehan v. Board of Trustees of Bloomsburg State College, 501 F.2d 31 (3rd Cir. 1974) and Ashlie v. Chester-Upland School District, No. 78-4037 (E.D. Pa. May 9, 1979). In Skehan, the Third Circuit held that a hearing after the termination of a non-tenured college professor is not the due process equivalent of the predetermination hearing required by case law.*fn4

[ 68 Pa. Commw. Page 420]

    be held prior to a valid suspension." Section 4 of the Local Agency Law requires a party to be afforded reasonable notice of a hearing and an opportunity to be heard before any adjudication of a local agency is valid. An "adjudication" is defined as "[a]ny final order, decree, determination or ruling by an agency." 2 Pa. C.S. ยง 101. The School Board resolution of June 23, 1978, was not a final determination; the teachers were afforded an opportunity to be heard before a final adjudication from the Board. This appeal procedure has been specifically approved of by recent case law. See Tressler v. Upper Dublin School District, 30 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 171, 173 n. 2, 373 A.2d 755, 757 n. 2 (1977).

The teachers next contend that they are entitled to back pay from the date of the suspension to the date of the final adjudication by the Board. In support of this contention, the teachers cite McKelvey v. Colonial School District, 22 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 207, 348 A.2d 445 (1975), and argue that requiring a School District to pay teachers from date of suspension to date of final adjudication would be an incentive for the Board to expeditiously adjudicate the suspensions, thereby preserving the teachers' right to a timely appeal.*fn7 Both arguments are without merit. McKelvey is clearly distinguishable in that it involved the dismissal of a temporary professional employe who, after requesting a hearing, was denied one by the School Board. This is not the situation here. Furthermore, the lower court held, and we agree, that the delay from June 23, 1978 (date of ...

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