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CRESTWOOD SCHOOL DISTRICT AND CRESTWOOD SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD v. JOHN F. TOPITO (08/11/83)

decided: August 11, 1983.

CRESTWOOD SCHOOL DISTRICT AND THE CRESTWOOD SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD, APPELLANTS
v.
JOHN F. TOPITO, JR. ET AL., APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County in case of John F. Topito, Jr., Sandi Topito, Reverend John D. Lambert, Patti Holmberg and Jeffrey Holmberg v. The Crestwood School District and The Crestwood School District Board, No. 65-E of 1982.

COUNSEL

Joseph B. Farrell, with him Harry P. Mattern, for appellants.

No appearance for appellee.

Judges Blatt, Doyle and Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Barbieri.

Author: Barbieri

[ 76 Pa. Commw. Page 322]

The Crestwood School District and the Crestwood School District Board (Appellants) appeal here from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County (1) denying a request for a preliminary injunction and (2) ruling on the merits of a complaint in equity. We remand.

On June 21, 1982, five residents of the Crestwood School District (District), John and Sandi Topito, Jr., Jeffrey and Patti Holmberg, and John D. Lambert (Petitioners), filed a complaint in equity against Appellants in which they advanced several legal theories in support of the proposition that the Crestwood School District Board (Board) had improperly voted at a May 27, 1982 Board meeting to close a District elementary school known as the White Haven School. Among the theories advanced in this complaint was that the Board's notice of its May 27, 1982 meeting

[ 76 Pa. Commw. Page 323]

    had failed to comply with the requirements of Section 423 of the Public School Code of 1949 (Code), Act of March 10, 1949, P.L. 30, as amended, 24 P.S. ยง 4-423. A Petition for Preliminary Injunction was then filed on August 20, 1982, and an answer to this petition was filed on August 24, 1982. On the same day that Appellants filed their answer to the preliminary injunction petition, an off-the-record conference was held before a court of common pleas judge. Subsequent to this conference, the judge issued an order (1) denying the request for a preliminary injunction and (2) ruling in favor of Petitioners on the merits of their equity action. This order reads in its entirety as follows:

Now, this 24th day of August, 1982, the Petition for a Prelimianry Injunction is dismissed. It is further ordered, adjudged and decreed that the special meeting of the Crestwood School District held on May 27, 1982, for the purpose of closing the White Haven School was illegal, in that, the purpose of the special meeting was not stated as required by the Public School Code of 1949, Section 423. The action taken is without prejudice to the School District to proceed to an appropriate special meeting by giving proper notice and hearing thereon.

In a subsequent opinion in support of its order, filed after Appellants filed an appeal to this Court, the court apparently concluded that it had to deny the request for a preliminary injunction since it was ruling on the merits of the equity action stated, inter alia, that "we have no other recourse than to dismiss the instant petition for a preliminary injunction, the action of the Crestwood School District Board closing the White Haven School having no force and effect."

Before this Court, Appellants raise a number of issues which need not be addressed here because of the ...


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