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FRANK N. COVERT v. BENSALEM TOWNSHIP SCHOOL DISTRICT (03/09/87)

decided: March 9, 1987.

FRANK N. COVERT, PETITIONER
v.
BENSALEM TOWNSHIP SCHOOL DISTRICT, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Department of Education in the case of Frank N. Covert v. Bensalem Township School District, Teacher Tenure Appeal No. 9-84.

COUNSEL

A. Martin Herring, for petitioner.

James M. McMaster, Smith and McMaster, P.C., for respondent.

Judges MacPhail and Barry, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.

Author: Macphail

[ 104 Pa. Commw. Page 441]

Frank N. Covert (Petitioner) has filed a petition for review in which he challenges the decision of the Acting

[ 104 Pa. Commw. Page 442]

Secretary of Education (Secretary) to affirm his dismissal as a professional employee. Petitioner's dismissal by the Board of School Directors (Board) of the Bensalem Township School District (District) was grounded on a charge of immorality,*fn1 and followed Petitioner's criminal conviction for harassment by communication or address.*fn2 We affirm.

Two issues have been raised in the instant appeal: (1) whether or not the dismissal proceedings were properly initiated under Section 1127 of the Public School Code of 1949 (Code), 24 P.S. ยง 11-1127, and (2) whether Petitioner was denied a fair and impartial hearing by virtue of bias on the part of certain Board members.

A brief review of the procedural history of this case is important to a resolution of the first issue presented. Petitioner, who had been employed by the District since 1964, was arrested and charged with two counts of harassment by communication or address in August, 1983. On September 2, 1983, the District Superintendent notified Petitioner by letter that his dismissal was being recommended to the Board and that Petitioner was being suspended without pay pending further Board action. The letter also charged Petitioner with

[ 104 Pa. Commw. Page 443]

    immorality and scheduled a dismissal hearing for September 14. Petitioner's counsel subsequently requested and was granted a continuance of the hearing pending final resolution of the criminal proceedings.

Petitioner was subsequently convicted in January, 1984 of one count of harassment by communication or address. On February 8, 1984, the Board President sent Petitioner a letter, attested to by the Board Secretary, scheduling a ...


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