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WILEY HOUSE v. ROBERT G. SCANLON (09/26/83)

decided: September 26, 1983.

WILEY HOUSE, APPELLANT,
v.
ROBERT G. SCANLON, SECRETARY OF EDUCATION, APPELLEE



No. 7 M.D. Appeal Docket 1982, Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, entered on July 21, 1981, to No. 1466 C.D. 1980, affirming the Order of the Secretary of Education, dated May 15, 1980, denying and dismissing the application of Wiley House for approval as an approved Private School, 61 Pa. Commw. Ct. 8; Roberts, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson and Zappala, JJ. Nix, J., did not participate in the decision or consideration of this case. Larsen, J., concurs in the result.

Author: Flaherty

[ 502 Pa. Page 232]

OPINION OF THE COURT

This is an appeal from an order of the Commonwealth Court, 61 Pa. Commw. 8, 432 A.2d 324, affirming the order of the Secretary of Education which denied and dismissed the application of Wiley House, a private school for socially and emotionally disturbed children, for status as an approved private school. Wiley House is licensed as a private school by the State Board of Private Academic Schools under the Act of June 25, 1947, P.L. 951, as amended, 24 P.S. § 2731 et seq., and sought to become an approved private school under section 1376 of the Public School Code of 1949, Act of March 10, 1949, P.L. 30, as amended, 24 P.S. § 13-1376, thereby becoming eligible for payment for educational services provided handicapped children assigned to the school by the Department of Education.

[ 502 Pa. Page 233]

On June 14, 1978 a three-member evaluation team from the Department of Education visited Wiley House and determined that Wiley House did not meet the requirements necessary for such approval. Thereafter, the Secretary of Education issued a Show Cause Notice, directing Wiley House to show cause why its application should not be denied. Wiley House filed an answer to this notice and an administrative hearing was conducted, the result of which was that the hearing examiner recommended that the application for approved status be denied for two reasons: (1) Wiley House did not comply with various regulatory standards promulgated by the Department of Education; (2) Wiley House did not demonstrate a need or necessity for its program, as required by the regulations of the Department of Education.

The Secretary, with minor amendments, accepted the examiner's report, and Wiley House appealed to the Commonwealth Court. Commonwealth Court, citing three of forty-two findings of fact made by the hearing examiner, affirmed the Secretary. In view of its disposition of the case on the issue of noncompliance with required standards, Commonwealth Court did not address the question of whether Wiley House had shown a need for its program. Wiley house petitioned for allowance of appeal and we granted allocatur.

Our standard of review in this case is provided for by statute at 2 Pa.C.S.A. § 704 as follows:

Disposition of appeal

[ 502 Pa. Page 234]

The court shall hear the appeal without a jury on the record certified by the Commonwealth agency. After hearing, the court shall affirm the adjudication unless it shall find that the adjudication is in violation of the constitutional rights of the appellant, or is not in accordance with law, or that the provisions of Subchapter A of Chapter 5 (relating to practice and procedure of Commonwealth agencies) have been violated in the proceedings before the agency, or that any finding of fact made by the Page 234} agency and necessary to support its adjudication is not supported by substantial evidence.

Emphasis supplied. Wiley House claims that the Commonwealth Court erred in two respects: (1) the court denied Wiley House due process by reviewing only three of the forty-two findings of fact made by the hearing officer, and concluding that these findings were legally sufficient to support the Secretary's order; (2) these findings of fact are without basis in law or support in the record. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

The legislature has charged the State Board of Education with the responsibility for promulgating "standards and regulations" for the training and education of handicapped children. 24 Pa.C.S.A. § 13-1372(1). Further, the Department of Education is charged with the responsibility of licensing approved private schools in the Commonwealth. The licensing standards adopted by the Board which are relevant to this case have been promulgated as regulations and are published in the Pennsylvania Code.

The first argument of Wiley House is that the Commonwealth Court erred in considering only three of forty-two findings of fact made by the hearing examiner, thus depriving Wiley House of due process of law. Secondly, Wiley House contends that ...


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