Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, in case of Linda Ann Mope v. Hazleton Area School District, No. 14 of 1978.
Paul C. Hensel, for appellant.
David L. Glassberg, for appellee.
Judges MacPhail and Colins, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Colins.
[ 96 Pa. Commw. Page 180]
Linda Ann Mope (appellant), a certified English teacher, appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County dismissing her complaint for reinstatement and lost wages following the termination of her employment with the Hazleton Area School District (District). The matter has come to us following the common pleas court's en banc dismissal of exceptions to the trial judge's decree nisi.
Appellant had been periodically employed by the District as a substitute teacher during the 1974-75 school term. Shortly before the start of the 1975-76 term, appellant was hired to fill a position vacated by a tenured teacher who had resigned. Appellant did not execute a contract governing her employment, nor do the minutes of the District's School Board reflect an approval of her hiring. The status of her employment within the constraints of the Public School Code of 1949
[ 96 Pa. Commw. Page 181]
(Code)*fn1 was not defined. Appellant did report to work on a daily basis and carried the complement of duties required of a full-time teacher.
On February 26, 1976, appellant met with the Superintendent of Schools, the Director of Secondary Education and the principal of the school in which she had been teaching. The events of this meeting are in dispute. Appellant contends that she was dismissed from her position by the Superintendent of Schools. The District argues that appellant was not dismissed, although criticism of her teaching ability was conveyed.*fn2
[ 96 Pa. Commw. Page 182]
Following the meeting, the District contends, appellant requested permission to leave work early that day on account of illness. She never returned to her position. She did not receive notification of her alleged dismissal.
On March 5, 1976, appellant contacted counsel for the Hazleton Area Education Association, Peter O'Brien, regarding a claim for reinstatement. By letter of that date, Mr. O'Brien requested the District afford appellant a hearing on her dismissal. Mr. O'Brien testified that he requested the hearing solely to preserve the appellant's rights without regard to the merits of her claim. His subsequent investigation led him to believe that the absence of documentation of the status of her employment precluded any remedy appellant might have against the District. On June 1, 1976 he advised her that he would not represent her and suggested that she seek other counsel. Mr. O'Brien did ...