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PAUL H. RIKE v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (09/20/83)

decided: September 20, 1983.

PAUL H. RIKE, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, SECRETARY OF EDUCATION, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Secretary of Education in the case of Paul H. Rike v. Board of School Directors of the Peters Township School District, Teacher Tenure Appeal, No. 21-81.

COUNSEL

Robert E. Durrant, Meyer, Darragh, Buckler, Bebenek & Eck, for petitioner.

Donna S. Weldon, Counsel, with her Michael A. Davis, Chief Counsel, for respondent.

Reed B. Day, Peacock, Keller, Yohe, Day & Ecker, for intervenor, Peters Township School District.

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

Judges Rogers, Blatt and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.

Author: Rogers

[ 77 Pa. Commw. Page 238]

Paul H. Rike, a professional school employee, here seeks review of the order of the Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Education dismissing, on the ground of lack of subject matter jurisdiction, Rike's appeal from his disciplinary suspension by the Board of School Directors of the Peters Township School District.

The cause of Rike's difficulties with his employer is not now directly in issue. It will suffice to record on this score that Rike was accused by a female cafeteria worker at the Peters Township Middle School where Rike had been a mathematics teacher for fifteen years of making comments, suggestions and invitations which were believed by their recipient to embody or intimate unwelcome invitations by Rike that he and the cafeteria employee engage in sexual intercourse. Rike admitted the oral comments complained of at a hearing before the school board. He asserted, however, that only a minor flirtation was contemplated which he thought was welcomed by, or at least not offensive to, the complainant; that his advances were made in a playful manner, and were not objected to at

[ 77 Pa. Commw. Page 239]

    the time they were made; and that they were made on occasions when teachers and many students were present in the general vicinity. He also asserted, and the complainant agreed, that the conduct which his words invited was never accomplished or attempted to be accomplished in deeds.

Following an investigation of the complaint by the district's superintendent of schools, Rike was notified by letter dated June 3, 1981, that the superintendent was

     considering a recommendation to the Board of Directors . . . that your contract be terminated pursuant to the provisions of Section 1122 of the Public School Code of 1949 [Act of March ...


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