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PENNSYLVANIA STATE EDUCATION ASSOCIATION ET AL. v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (10/24/86)

decided: October 24, 1986.

THE PENNSYLVANIA STATE EDUCATION ASSOCIATION ET AL., PETITIONERS
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION; BOARD OF SCHOOL DIRECTORS OF THE MIDLAND SCHOOL DISTRICT; BOARD OF SCHOOL DIRECTORS OF THE BEAVER AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT, RESPONDENTS



Original Jurisdiction in case of The Pennsylvania State Education Association et al. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Education; Board of School Directors of The Midland School District; and Board of School Directors of The Beaver Area School District.

COUNSEL

Anthony D. Newman, with him, Lynne L. Wilson, for petitioners.

Richard L. Davis, Deputy Attorney General, with him, Michael B. Sutton, Deputy Attorney General, Andrew S. Gordon, Chief Deputy Attorney General, Chief Litigation Section, and LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for respondent, Department of Education.

John J. Petrush, for respondents, Beaver Area School District and Board of School Directors of Beaver Area School District.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr., Judge Colins, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Colins.

Author: Colins

[ 101 Pa. Commw. Page 499]

The Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), on behalf of its members, Gary Woods and Dale C. Stuby, furloughed teachers, and Beatrice, Jean L. and Martin Vincent Schulte, Jr., a mother and her minor children, respectively, (petitioners) have petitioned this Court to have the tuition agreement entered into by the Boards of School Directors of the Midland Borough (Midland) and Beaver Area (Beaver) School Districts declared invalid and to enjoin the respective Boards of Directors from implementing the tuition agreement. Petitioners also seek to enjoin the Department of Education (Department) from making any subsidy payments on behalf of the students affected by this agreement.

Petitioners' application for preliminary relief was earlier denied by a single Judge of this Court and, in the decision accompanying that denial, the determination of the legality of the tuition agreement inherent in the petitioners' request for declaratory relief was reserved for a panel of this Court. We now consider as well respondents' preliminary objections which raise jurisdictional questions and a demurrer.

Statement of the Controversy

This case involves yet another tragic repercussion of the changing economic conditions in western Pennsylvania. On April 9, 1986, the Midland School Board of Directors, confronted with a declining student census, a diminishing revenue base and a deteriorating high

[ 101 Pa. Commw. Page 500]

    school building,*fn1 adopted a resolution*fn2 to send its students in grades seven through twelve to Beaver on a tuition basis for a period of five years, commencing with the 1986-87 school year. A written agreement was entered into between the two school boards formalizing the arrangements between the parties. The agreement had no impact upon Midland's elementary program for students in kindergarten through grade 6. Thirteen tenured teachers from Midland were subsequently furloughed, pursuant to School Board resolution.

PSEA, on behalf of its members, furloughed teachers, Beatrice Schulte, a resident taxpayer of Midland and mother of two minor children affected by the agreement, Jean and Martin, also named in this action, sought declaratory and injunctive relief from the above action of the Midland and Beaver School Boards of Directors, which injunction, as we have indicated, was denied.

Respondents now urge us to dismiss this matter because the Department is not properly a party such that we lack jurisdiction to decide the controversy, pursuant to 42 Pa. C.S. ยง 761, which section of the Judicial Code confers original jurisdiction on this Court in all civil actions or proceedings ...


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