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WOODLAND HILLS SCHOOL DISTRICT v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (10/24/86)

decided: October 24, 1986.

WOODLAND HILLS SCHOOL DISTRICT, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, RESPONDENT



Original Jurisdiction in case of Woodland Hills School District v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Education.

COUNSEL

Patrick J. Clair, with him, William C. Andrews, Goehring, Rutter & Boehm, for petitioner.

Ernest N. Helling, Assistant Counsel, with him, Mary M. Rogers, Chief Counsel, for respondent.

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

Author: Crumlish

[ 101 Pa. Commw. Page 508]

Woodland Hills School District (District) and the Department of Education (Department) have filed cross motions for summary judgment seeking a declaratory judgment as to the School District's obligation under Section 1374 of the Public School Code of 1949 (Code)*fn1 to provide midday transportation to gifted,*fn2 nonpublic school students.

For the 1982-83 school year, the District organized its special education program for gifted students*fn3 to provide elementary school students instruction one-half day per week in one of the District's public school buildings. The transportation program included nonpublic school students. However, in the 1983-84 school year, the District reorganized its gifted student program. Instruction was offered in each public school and itinerant teachers traveled to each school on the scheduled days, thus eliminating transportation for the nonpublic school students.*fn4

[ 101 Pa. Commw. Page 509]

Parents of these nonpublic school students filed complaints contending that their children's rights to special education were violated. Upon investigation, the Department found the District to be in violation of state law and directed*fn5 the District, or alternatively the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, to provide midday transportation to the nonpublic school students. The District and the Department seek by summary declaratory judgment to determine their respective obligations to provide midday transportation to these students.

Summary judgment is properly entered only when the moving party establishes that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Kane v. Hilton, 78 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 629, 468 A.2d 1160 (1983). To determine

[ 101 Pa. Commw. Page 510]

    whether to enter a summary judgment, a court must view the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. J. Berman & Sons, Inc. v. Department of Transportation, 21 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 317, 345 A.2d 303 (1975). The moving party's burden to prove that its right to a summary judgment is clear and free from doubt is a heavy one. Zeck v. Balsbaugh, 66 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 448, 445 A.2d 253 (1982).

The mentally gifted nonpublic school pupils who are the subject of this action have a right to be identified and to be provided an education program designed to meet their needs. Centennial School District v. Department of Education, 94 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 530, 503 A.2d 1090 (1986). Accordingly, when the district developed and offered its special education program to ...


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