No. 80-3-590, Appeal From the Order of November 5, 1979 of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania at No. 469 C.D. 1979, Affirming and Reversing the Order Entered February 20, 1979, of the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County, Civil Action, In Mandamus, at No. 473 November Term, 1976.
Peter J. O'Brien, Mount Pocono, for appellants.
Andrew S. Sislo, Harrisburg, for appellee.
O'Brien, C.j., and Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott and Hutchinson, JJ. Nix, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which McDermott, J., joins.
On June 29, 1976, appellee, the Board of Directors of the Riverside School District [hereinafter Board], voted to eliminate several teaching positions for the 1976-77 school year, due to a substantial decrease in student enrollment in the district. On July 22, 1976, the district superintendent notified appellants, Jule Carmody and Kathleen Holmes, that they were suspended. The Board refused appellants' request for a hearing, and appellants brought a mandamus action in the Common Pleas Court of Lackawanna County.*fn1 On August 25, 1977, following a non-jury, de novo hearing, the common pleas court found that appellants were improperly suspended and ordered the Board to reinstate appellants to their former positions. The common pleas court, en banc,
dismissed the Board's exceptions, and the Board filed a direct appeal to the Commonwealth Court. The Commonwealth Court found that appellants were properly suspended by the Board and reversed the common pleas court order. Board of School Directors of Riverside School District v. Carmody, 47 Pa. Commw. 201, 408 A.2d 885 (1979). This Court granted appellants' petition for allowance of appeal on May 30, 1980.
Since the issues raised in this appeal concern whether appellants were properly suspended, a brief overview of the procedure, then in existence, for suspending a professional employe follows.
When a school board decides to make a reduction in its staff of professional employes, the district superintendent suspends the employes based on the efficiency rank of the employes determined in accordance with the standards and regulations set forth on rating cards prepared by the Department of Public Instruction.*fn2 Each professional employe is rated by the district superintendent of schools on a scale of 0 to 80, with 80 being the highest possible rating.*fn3 This rating is the professional employe's unweighted efficiency rating. If there is no substantial difference in these unweighted efficiency ratings of the professional employes, suspensions must be made according to seniority as accumulated in the involved school district.*fn4 If there is, however, a substantial difference in the unweighted efficiency ratings, the ratings are to be weighted by adding a point to each employe's unweighted efficiency rating for each year of service in the involved school district.*fn5 In which case, suspensions
are to be made according to the weighted ...