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PEIFFER v. LEBANON SCH. DIST.

November 9, 1987

Robert Peiffer, Plaintiff
v.
Lebanon School District, Defendant


William W. Caldwell, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: CALDWELL

WILLIAM W. CALDWELL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 Introduction

 Before the court is the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment as to liability in this action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The complaint alleges a violation of the plaintiff's fifth and fourteenth amendment rights. For the reasons that follow, the plaintiff's motion will be denied and summary judgment will be entered for the defendant.

 Background

 The plaintiff was a maintenance employee of the Lebanon School District for seventeen years. On May 28, 1987, his employment at the Lebanon Junior High School was terminated by the Board of School Directors after a hearing held pursuant to section 514 of the Pennsylvania Public School Code, 24 P.S. § 5-514. The question of the propriety of the Board's refusal to continue that hearing gave rise to this lawsuit.

 On April 22, 1987, Lebanon City Police Detective Russell Miller met with the plaintiff at the junior high school to discuss criminal allegations made against him by an eighth grade special education student. The plaintiff allegedly showed the student adult cards and magazines and touched the student's private parts. On the afternoon of April 22, 1987, the Superintendent of Schools summoned the plaintiff to his office to discuss the allegations. The plaintiff admitted that the student had been in the maintenance building, an area of school property not open to students, and that the student had viewed certain adult materials. The plaintiff stated that the student sat on his lap, but he denied any intimate contact. The Superintendent suspended the plaintiff with pay pending further investigation.

 On April 24, 1987, the plaintiff was charged by the Lebanon City Police Department with indecent assault and corruption of a minor under sections 3126 and 6301 of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, 18 Pa.C.S.A. §§ 3126, 6301. He pleaded not guilty.

 On May 28, 1987, after notice to the plaintiff, the School Board held a hearing, pursuant to section 514, to determine whether dismissal was warranted. The notice indicated the Board's concern over the plaintiff's association with the student and listed the objectionable conduct as follows:

 
This conduct includes, but is not limited to, the display of books, magazines, cards, and the like, your physical interaction with the student, and your allowing him to be in areas of school property in impermissible places and at impermissible times and circumstances.

 At the commencement of the hearing, the plaintiff, through counsel, requested a continuance until resolution of the criminal matter. He informed the Board that his defense could be presented only through his testimony and that he did not wish to risk incriminating himself. The Board denied his request and the plaintiff and his counsel left the hearing. The Board heard testimony presented by the School District and voted unanimously to terminate the plaintiff's employment.

 The plaintiff brought this action for damages and reinstatement alleging that the School District violated his fifth and fourteenth amendment rights to due process and against self incrimination. He has filed a motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of liability. He contends that since the conduct relied upon by the School District to dismiss him was the same as that underlying the criminal charges, the School District violated his fifth and fourteenth amendment rights when it forced him either to waive his right against self-incrimination and testify, or to raise no defense at all. The School District maintains that the discharge had nothing to do with the criminal proceeding and that the plaintiff's rights were not violated.

 On October 6, 1987, a jury found the plaintiff not guilty of both indecent assault and ...


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