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decided: January 25, 1985.


Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of the 41st Judicial District of Pennsylvania, Juniata County Branch, in the case of Jay Kipp v. Juniata School District, No. 380 of 1976.


Andrew L. Winder, Law Offices of Clyde R. Bomgardner, for appellant.

John R. Miller, Jr., Miller, Kistler & Campbell, Inc., for appellee.

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

Author: Doyle

[ 87 Pa. Commw. Page 212]

Jay Kipp (Appellant) appeals from a decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Juniata County which denied his claim for back salary under Section 1142

[ 87 Pa. Commw. Page 213]

    of the Public School Code of 1949*fn1 (School Code) and the local salary schedule of the Juniata County School District (Appellee).

Appellant was hired by Appellee as a temporary professional employee at the beginning of the 1960-1961 school year. At that time, Section 1142 provided that all professional employees were to receive a minimum annual salary of $3,600.00 and that teachers holding a college certificate were to receive a minimum annual service increment of $200.00. In 1963, Act 247*fn2 amended Section 1142 to provide for a minimum salary of $4,200.00 with minimum annual service increments of $300.00. Appellant was hired at an initial salary of $4,100.00, and he received an adjustment at least equal to the required $200.00 or $300.00 increment each year prior to 1965.

In 1965, Act 405*fn3 amended Section 1142 to provide that, beginning in the school year 1965-1966, minimum salaries would be based upon a system of steps. An employee would attain placement at a particular step either by agreement with the school district or through the employee's years of service within the school district, whichever led to the higher placement. This system was carried over by still another amendment under Act 96*fn4 in 1968. See Graybill v. Juniata Schools, 21 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 630, 347 A.2d 524 (1975).

Appellant contends that his temporary professional contract of 1960-1961 which provided for a salary of $4,100.00 constituted an agreement with Appellee that he was to be placed at a level equivalent to step three and a half under Act 405. Applying his five years of teaching experience acquired between 1960-1961 and the effective date of Act 405 on July 1,

[ 87 Pa. Commw. Page 2141965]

, Appellant concludes that he should have been compensated at step eight and a half for the school year 1965-1966, step nine and a half for the year 1966-1967, and so on, down through the year 1971-1972.*fn5

Appellee first asserts that, since Appellant's claim is based in part on the Appellee's local salary schedule, the claim is barred by Wildrick v. Board of Directors of Sayre Area, 491 Pa. 25, 417 A.2d 617 (1980). The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held in Wildrick that a school district is not required by the School Code to apply to its local salary schedule the steps mandated in the state statutory schedule. Appellee is correct in its assertion that Wildrick operates to bar that portion of Appellant's claim which is based entirely upon the local salary schedule. It does not, however, prevent Appellant from recovering the minimum salaries prescribed under Act 405 and Act 96.

Appellee next asserts that since Appellant was hired initially as a temporary employee, his first permanent professional contract with Appellee which was entered into in October of 1966, after the effective date of Act 405, operated as an arms-length agreement to set Appellant's salary at $6,450.00 for the school year 1966-1967. This argument is bolstered with a

[ 87 Pa. Commw. Page 215]

    letter, dated September 15, 1966, in which Appellant himself indicated to the Juniata County School Board that his salary for the year 1965-1966 was properly based upon his five years of teaching experience in the district. Appellee claims that Appellant's placement at step six in 1965-1966 and step seven the following year, was therefore in full compliance with the provision of Act 405 which stated that teachers were to be compensated for school years beginning with the year 1965-1966 "in accordance with . . . the step which the professional employee has attained by agreement or by years of experience within the school district whichever is higher."

The problem of what was meant by "the step attained by agreement" was thoroughly analyzed in the Graybill case, wherein this Court determined that the agreement which controlled the entering step under Act 405 was "the initial employment contract with the school district." 21 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 630, 347 A.2d at 528. No distinction was made between temporary professional and permanent professional contracts. In addition, the trial court, in reasoning impliedly adopted by this Court, found that "[i]t is not material to the issue before the Court that [plaintiff] entered into a new written agreement with the defendant school district on October 14, 1966." Graybill specifically adopted Appellant's method of calculating his entering step under Act 405. According to that case, since Appellant was hired at an initial salary of $4,100.00 at a time when the minimum salary for the holder of a college provisional certificate was $3,600.00, with mandatory yearly increments of at least $200.00, he was, in effect, hired at "step" three and a half on the state salary schedule then in force.

Appellee argues that a distinction must be made in Appellant's case by virtue of the fact that he taught

[ 87 Pa. Commw. Page 216]

    under emergency certification during the 1963-1964 school year. Appellant's college provisional certificate expired before he had completed sufficient post-baccalaureate credits to obtain his permanent college certificate. Appellee apparently believes that, given these circumstances, Appellant ceased to be a professional employee within the protection of Article XI of the School Code*fn6 at the end of the school year 1961-1962, when his two year temporary contract expired, and that he did not regain his professional status until October of 1966 when he entered into the permanent professional contract referred to above.

This argument confuses a change in certification with a change in professional status. The attainment of a permanent professional status under Article XI of the School Code does not depend upon possession of any particular type of certificate. Tyler v. Jefferson County -- DuBois Area Vocational Technical School, 467 Pa. 595, 359 A.2d 761 (1976). The Pennsylvania Supreme Court stated in Tyler that possession of any of the various certificates specified under Section 1201 of the School Code*fn7 (which includes emergency certification) would allow a teacher to obtain either temporary or permanent professional status.

Furthermore, Section 1108(b) of the School Code*fn8 provides, in pertinent part:

A temporary professional employe whose work has been certified by the district superintendent to the secretary of the school district, during the last four (4) months of the second year of [his or her services], as being satisfactory shall thereafter be a "professional employe" within the meaning of this article.

[ 87 Pa. Commw. Page 217]

Appellant received such a satisfactory rating; he therefore became a permanent professional employee during the 1962-1963 school year. The Juniata County School Board had a duty to issue him a written contract at that time, and its failure to do so cannot now be raised by Appellee as a defense. Department of Education v. Jersey Shore Area School District, 481 Pa. 356, 392 A.2d 1331 (1978).

It is true that Act 405 made no specific provisions for employees with emergency certification status. The time for assigning Appellant a classification under the newly instituted step system, however, was July of 1965, at which time he clearly fit into the second category under Act 405, which applied to teachers holding valid college certificates.*fn9

We therefore conclude that between the years 1965 and 1971 Appellant was underpaid the amount of $2,650.00 under the state schedules appended to Act 405 and Act 96, as is further illustrated by the following table:*fn10

[ 87 Pa. Commw. Page 218]

Year Step Under Act 405 Salary Paid Difference

1965-1966 8 1/2 $6,750.00 $5,900.00 $850.00

1966-1967 9 $6,900.00 $6,450.00 $450.00

1967-1968 9 $6,900.00 $7,000.00

Year Step Under Act 96 Salary Paid Difference

1968-1969 10 $8,100.00 $7,800.00 $300.00

1969-1970 12 1/2 $9,450.00 $8,700.00 $750.00

1970-1971 13 $9,600.00 $9,300.00 $300.00

1971-1972 13 $9,600.00 $9,900.00


As noted above, the additional amounts claimed by Appellant for years during which the local salary schedule exceeded the state schedule must be disallowed under Wildrick.

The decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Juniata County is therefore reversed. Appellant is awarded the sum of $2,650.00 together with simple interest of 6 percent, as authorized under Section 1155 of the School Code.*fn11


Now, January 25, 1985, the decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Juniata County is hereby reversed. Appellant is awarded the sum of $2,650.00, together with simple interest of six percent.



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