Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in the case of Richard Mongelluzzo and Frank Toth v. School District of Bethel Park, No. S.A. 34 of 1984.
Stephen H. Jordan, with him, Shelley W. Elovitz, Rothman, Gordon, Foreman and Groudine, P.A., for appellants.
John R. Johnson, with him, A. Bruce Bowden and Thomas S. Giotto, Buchanan, Ingersoll Professional Corporation, for appellee.
Judges Rogers and MacPhail, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.
[ 93 Pa. Commw. Page 558]
Richard Mongelluzzo and Frank Toth (Appellants) appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County affirming the adjudication of the School District of Bethel Park (School District) suspending them from their teaching positions pursuant to Sections 1124 and 1125.1 of the Public School Code of 1949 (Code).*fn1 We affirm.
The relevant facts are not in dispute, inasmuch as they were stipulated to by the parties in the proceedings before the Board of School Directors. (R.R. 2a-7a). There was a substantial decrease in overall pupil enrollment in the Bethel Park School District from the 1979-80 school year through the 1983-84 school year. Appellants were suspended for the 1983-84 school year. The suspensions were the result of the School District's elimination of its Driver Education program and the alteration and/or curtailment of its Industrial Arts program through the elimination of all photography courses effective with the beginning of the 1983-84 school year. Pupil enrollment in the Driver Education program had not substantially declined and the enrollment in the various photography courses decreased from 215 in the 1979-80 school year to 199 in the 1982-83 school year.
The relevant portion of Section 1124 of the Code reads:
Any board of school directors may suspend the necessary number of professional employes, for any of the causes hereinafter enumerated:
[ 93 Pa. Commw. Page 559]
(1) Substantial decrease in pupil enrollment in the school district;
(2) Curtailment or alteration of the educational program on recommendation of the superintendent, concurred in by the board of school directors, approved by the Department of Public Instruction, as a result of substantial decline in class or course enrollments or to conform with standards of organization or educational activities required by law or recommended by the Department of Public Instruction[.]*fn2
Appellants assert that because the Driver Education and Industrial Arts programs were curtailed or altered, the School District could only suspend them if approval for the program changes had been obtained from the Department of Education*fn3 and if the suspensions were a result of a substantial decline in class or course enrollments. The School District counters by asserting that, in order to invoke the ...