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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JOHN P. CONMY (03/07/85)

decided: March 7, 1985.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, PETITIONER
v.
JOHN P. CONMY, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the State Civil Service Commission in case of John P. Conmy v. Scranton State School for the Deaf, Department of Education, Appeal No. 4125.

COUNSEL

Mary Beth O'Hara Osborne, for petitioner.

Lawrence A. Durkin, for respondent.

Judges Doyle and Palladino, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Barbieri. Judge Williams, Jr., did not participate in the decision in this case.

Author: Barbieri

[ 90 Pa. Commw. Page 360]

Petitioner, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (Department), appeals here from an adjudication and order of the State Civil Service Commission (Commission) invalidating the furlough of Respondent, John P. Conmy, from his position as Institutional Business Manager II at the Scranton State School for the Deaf (School).

[ 90 Pa. Commw. Page 361]

Respondent held the position of Institutional Business Manager II at the School from November of 1979 until August 31, 1982. During the 1981-82 school year, Dr. George Severns, the Superintendent of the School, transferred many of Respondent's job responsibilities to other employees because Respondent was behind in his work and had told Dr. Severns that he was overworked.

At the same time, the School was having financial difficulties. The Department initially projected that the School would have a deficit of $350,000 for the 1981-82 school year. On January 29, 1982, the Department imposed a hiring freeze on the School. With the aid of Department rebudgeting efforts and the implementation of a number of cost-saving measures, the School was able to lower its deficit for the 1981-82 school year to $10,000, which was carried over to the 1982-83 school year. Although the School's budget for the 1982-83 school year was 6% higher than it had been in 1981-82, the School's real operating budget decreased because of cost increases resulting from inflation. The Department nonetheless instructed the School that under no circumstances was the School to exceed its allotted funds for the 1982-83 school year.

In the School's initial plan of reorganization accompanying early proposals for the 1982-83 budget, Dr. Severns recommended replacing the position of Institutional Business Manager II with the lower classified position of Fiscal Assistant. When told of this proposed change, Respondent stated that he would accept no position lower than Accountant II, a position which was classified higher than Fiscal Assistant but lower than Institutional Business Manager II and which Respondent had previously held for eight years at Fairview State Hospital. The position of Fiscal Assistant was not approved by the Governor.

[ 90 Pa. Commw. Page 362]

In April of 1982, Dr. Severns submitted a second preliminary plan of reorganization which requested, inter alia, that the position of Institutional Business Manager II be eliminated and replaced with the position of Accountant II. The second preliminary plan of reorganization stated that an Accountant II would be necessary if the Institutional Business Manager II position was eliminated.

By letter dated July 28, 1982, Appellant was furloughed from his position as Institutional Business Manager II, regular status, effective at the close of business August 31, 1982. At that time, the hiring freeze of January 29, 1982 was still in effect at the School and the position of Accountant II had not been created or approved. Shortly after Respondent's termination, William O'Neill a Department employee with the classification of Accountant II arrived at the School on indefinite special assignment. Mr. O'Neill performed many of Respondent's duties, but also allegedly was to train Dr. Severns and other employees at the School on various accounting procedures so that they could perform Respondent's remaining duties. The Department, not the School, was responsible for paying Mr. O'Neill. As of November 17, 1982, the time of the hearing before the Commission, Mr. O'Neill was still working at ...


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