Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lebanon County in the case of In Re: Appeal of Suspension of Daniel McClellan, No. 2968 of 1981.
David A. Kreider, with him David J. Brightbill, Siegrist, Koller, Brightbill & Long, for appellants.
Timothy D. Sheffey, Egli, Reilly, Wolfson, Sheffey and Schrum, for appellee.
Judges Craig, MacPhail and Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Rogers, Williams, Jr., Craig, MacPhail, Doyle and Barry. Opinion by Judge Doyle. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Craig. Judge Barry joins this dissent.
Before this Court is an appeal by H. Ronald and Dolores McClellan from a decision and order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lebanon County affirming a decision by the Board of School Directors of the Cornwall-Lebanon School District (Board) to expel their son, Daniel McClellan, from school for a period of twenty-four calendar days. We affirm.
On September 28, 1981, the student, who was fifteen years old and in the 10th grade at Cedar Crest High School at the time, and his father, H. Ronald McClellan, visited the office of the high school's assistant principal, Mr. Glenn Caufman. The purpose of this visit was to discuss the potential ramifications of the student's having been found by local police in the school's parking lot after a football game the previous Friday evening in an intoxicated condition. Following the McClellan's visit, Mr. Caufman reported the matter to the school's principal, Joseph Sakalosky. Mr. Sakalosky, in turn, contacted the police department to verify what had occurred. Subsequent to this contact, on October 2, 1981, a citation was issued by the South Lebanon Township police charging Daniel with violating Section 6308 of the Crimes Code, 18 Pa. C.S. § 6308, which reads:
A person commits a summary offense if he, being less than 21 years of age, attempts to purchase, purchases, consumes, possesses or transports, any alcohol, liquor or malt or brewed beverages.
A $50.00 fine and $27.53 in costs levied pursuant to the citation were paid on October 16, 1981. On November 11, 1981, the student's parents were sent notice that an informal hearing was to be held for the purpose of suspending Daniel for ten days for violating Board policy regarding the possession or consumption of alcohol on school property. The specific policy of the Board at issue was:
Students apprehended in possession of, having consumed, trafficking in alcohol or drugs or in possession of drug related paraphernalia on school property at any time or as a participant in any school sponsored event or activity will be suspended from school. Students who enter school property after having
consumed alcohol or drugs will also be suspended. Furthermore, all students suspended for alcohol or drugs shall be subject to a formal hearing before the Board or a Board appointed hearing officer for the purpose of further suspension or expulsion. Final disposition rests with the Board of Education.
The preliminary hearing was waived and Daniel was suspended from school for a period of ten days. Thereafter, a formal hearing was conducted by an examiner appointed by the Board. Daniel's parents testified on his behalf and Mr. Caufman appeared as the sole witness for the Board. Also introduced into evidence was a copy of the citation issued to Daniel. Daniel did not testify. Based on the evidence adduced at this hearing, the examiner submitted a recommendation to the Board which then issued a decision ordering Daniel "expelled" from school from January 4, 1982, through the end of the marking period, January 28, 1982. The McClellans appealed this decision to the court of common pleas which affirmed the expulsion. The appeal to this Court followed.
Where, as here, a complete record was developed before the local agency, a court reviewing the matter on appeal must affirm the local agency unless it is determined that constitutional rights were violated, that an error of law was committed, that the procedure before the agency was contrary to statute or that a necessary finding of fact was unsupported by substantial evidence. Section 754 of the Local Agency Law, 2 Pa. C.S. § 754. See ...