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HARRISBURG SCHOOL DISTRICT ET AL. v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (10/18/83)

decided: October 18, 1983.

HARRISBURG SCHOOL DISTRICT ET AL., PETITIONERS
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in the case of In Re: Linda M. Portlock v. Harrisburg School District, PHRC No. E-14678D, EEOC No. 031-790074.

COUNSEL

Judy S. Smith, with her William T. Smith, Smith and Smith, P.C., for petitioners.

G. Thompson Bell, Assistant General Counsel, for respondent.

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

Author: Craig

[ 77 Pa. Commw. Page 595]

The Harrisburg School District, its superintendent, and its acting director for special education (school district) appeal from a decision and order by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, which found that, in violation of section 5(a) of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (Act),*fn1 the school

[ 77 Pa. Commw. Page 596]

    district had discriminated against Linda Portlock, a black woman, because of her race and sex, by failing to interview or hire her for the position of Instructional Supervisor of Special Education (ISSE position).

We must decide if the commission committed an error of law in its allocation of the burden of proof and if there is substantial evidence to support its findings of discrimination. See Harmony Volunteer Fire Co. and Relief Association v. Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, 73 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 596, 459 A.2d 439 (1983) (court must affirm commission adjudication unless commission violated constitutional rights, made findings of fact not supported by substantial evidence or committed an error of law).

Factual Background

In 1977, the school district had posted a vacancy notice for the ISSE position; at that time, John Tommasini, a white male, and Gail Edwards, a black female, had applied, and were interviewed for the position by three school district officials then in office, the former superintendent, the former director of special education, and the former director of curriculum. Apparently, because of insufficient funding, the school district did not fill the vacancy for the 1978 academic year.

In April of 1978, the school district again posted a vacancy notice for the ISSE position, listing the following qualification prerequisites:

1. Master's Degree in Special Education;

2. Pennsylvania certification in at least one major discipline of Special Education;

3. Pennsylvania certification as a Supervisor in Special Education;

4. Commitment to the education of exceptional children.

[ 77 Pa. Commw. Page 597]

As an addendum, the vacancy notice also listed the National Teachers Examination as a ...


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