Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Blair County, in case of Patrick T. Pollard v. Altoona Area Vocational-Technical School, No. 625 June Term, 1978.
Karen L. Steele, Leopold, Eberhardt & Goldstein, for appellant.
Richard J. Russell, Russell, Pappas and Rozich, for appellee.
Judges MacPhail and Palladino, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Barbieri. Judge Palladino dissents.
[ 103 Pa. Commw. Page 227]
This is an appeal by the Altoona Area Vocational Technical School (AAVTS) from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Blair County reinstating Patrick T. Pollard as a professional employee of AAVTS and awarding him back pay and benefits. The common pleas court found Pollard was improperly suspended under Section 1124 of the Public School Code of 1949 (School Code), Act of March 10, 1949, P.L. 30, as amended, 24 P.S. § 11-1124. We agree and affirm.
Pollard commenced his employment with AAVTS in August, 1976, and began his teaching duties on September 7, 1976. He was specifically hired to teach a welding class for the disadvantaged that AAVTS commenced due to the availability of federal funds. Pollard started the 1976-1977 school year under an emergency teaching certificate issued by the District Superintendent. He did not receive his intern teaching certificate from the Secretary of Education until November, 1976. He taught the disadvantaged welding class during the 1976-1977 and 1977-1978 school years and received satisfactory ratings throughout that time. On June 26, 1978, the AAVTS Director was informed by the Department
[ 103 Pa. Commw. Page 228]
of Education it disapproved of the way the AAVTS disadvantaged welding program was run and the program would not be funded in the 1978-1979 school year. As a result of the Department's decision not to fund its disadvantaged welding program, in August, 1978, the AAVTS operating committee discontinued the program and suspended Pollard. He appealed his suspension and the common pleas court reversed and ordered him reinstated with back pay and benefits. AAVTS then appealed the common pleas court's order.
In this appeal, we are called upon to determine (1) whether Pollard was a tenured professional employee under the School Code and, if so, (2) whether the AAVTS properly suspended him under the provisions of the School Code.
A temporary professional employee does not become a tenured professional employee until he or she completes two years of satisfactory service as a temporary professional employee. Section 1108(b) of the School Code, 24 P.S. § 11-1108(b). In Department of Education v. Great Valley School District, 23 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 423, 352 A.2d 252 (1976), we interpreted 24 P.S. § 11-1108(b) to provide tenure to a teacher who receives four satisfactory ratings over a two-year period and provides proof he or she was entitled to a temporary certificate at the beginning of that two-year period. There is no dispute Pollard had acquired the four necessary satisfactory ratings during the two-year period from August, 1976, through August, 1978. The only dispute is whether he was entitled to a temporary certificate in August, 1976, the beginning of that period.
When Pollard commenced his employment with AAVTS in August, 1976, he did not possess an intern certificate issued by the Department of Education. That certificate was not issued until November, 1976. The ...