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DAVID H. FRY v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (07/31/84)

decided: July 31, 1984.

DAVID H. FRY, SR., PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, RESPONDENT. DAVID H. FRY, SR., APPELLANT V. GARNET VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT, WILLIAM A. BYRD, JR., AND BOARD OF SCHOOL DIRECTORS, GARNET VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT, APPELLEES



Appeals from the Order of the Secretary of the Department of Education in the case of David H. Fry, Sr. v. Garnet Valley School District, William A. Byrd, Jr. and Board of School Directors, Garnet Valley School District, No. 10-82, Teacher Tenure Appeal, and from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County in the case of David H. Fry, Sr. v. Garnet Valley School District, William A. Byrd, Jr., and Board of School Directors, Garnet Valley School District, No. 82-12230.

COUNSEL

James F. Proud, Gibbons, Buckley, Smith, Palmer and Proud, P.C., for petitioner/appellant.

Linda J. Wells, Assistant Counsel, with her, Michael A. Davis, Chief Counsel, for respondent, Department of Education.

Richard A. Mitchell, Cramp, D'Iorio, McConchie & Forbes, P.C., for appellees.

Judges Williams, Jr., Doyle and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Memorandum Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr.

Author: Williams

[ 86 Pa. Commw. Page 207]

David H. Fry, Sr., a professional employe of the Garnet Valley School District, was, in April 1982, recommended for demotion to sixth grade classroom

[ 86 Pa. Commw. Page 208]

    teacher from his position as an elementary school principal, because of a district-wide decline in student enrollment. The district's board of school directors (board) subsequently conducted proceedings under Section 1151 of the Public School Code of 1949 (Code).*fn1 At the hearing the district's superintendent testified, and the board found, that the district's diminishing pupil population eliminated the necessity for a full-time principal at the elementary school where Fry was employed. Consequently, the superintendent recommended Fry's demotion and replacement by the district's Director of Special Education, who would also retain his special education administrative duties.

Fry, who is certificated as an elementary and secondary school principal, testified to having greater seniority than at least one of the district's secondary school principals. Fry argued that his demotion therefore constituted an improper realignment of professional staff under Section 1125.1(c) of the Code*fn2 rather than an improper demotion under Section 1151. In its adjudication that board concluded, however, that Fry's demotion was (1) not a staff realignment and (2) proper under Section 1151 because not performed arbitrarily or capriciously. Fry then filed appeals with the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County and the Secretary of Education (Secretary). The Secretary dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, and the common pleas court affirmed the board's decision. Consolidated for disposition are Fry's appeals from both orders.

[ 86 Pa. Commw. Page 209]

The primary question is whether a full-time principal's demotion to teacher and replacement by a part-time principal (with district-wide administrative responsibilities), which is necessitated by the district's falling student enrollment, constitutes a professional staff realignment within the intendment of Section 1125.1(c). This case is clearly guided by Shestack v. General Braddock Area School District, 63 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 204, 437 A.2d 1059 (1981).

In Shestack, a pupil population decline caused the closing of an elementary school and the transfer of its principal to an elementary school where Shestack was employed as principal. Shestack was replaced by the transferred principal and demoted to a fifth grade teaching position. Contending that "the action with respect to his position of employment constituted a 'realignment,'" Shestack challenged his demotion as an improper realignment of professional staff under Section 1125.1(c). Id. at 205, 437 A.2d at 1060. The board of school directors sustained the demotion ...


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