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DAVID P. SHUMAN v. CUMBERLAND VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD DIRECTORS (01/26/88)

decided: January 26, 1988.

DAVID P. SHUMAN, APPELLANT
v.
CUMBERLAND VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF DIRECTORS, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Cumberland County in the case of David P. Shuman v. Cumberland Valley School District Board of Directors, No. 1890 Civil, 1985.

COUNSEL

Robert C. Saidis, Saidis & Guido, for appellant.

Richard C. Snelbaker, Snelbaker, Elicker & Silver, for appellee.

Judges MacPhail and Doyle, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Craig, Barry, Colins and Palladino. Opinion by Judge Doyle. Judge MacPhail dissents.

Author: Doyle

[ 113 Pa. Commw. Page 64]

David P. Shuman (Appellant) appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Cumberland County which dismissed his appeal from a decision of the Board of Directors of the Cumberland Valley School District (Board) expelling him from school and denying him a diploma.

On May 16, 1985, D.C. and C.T., students at the Cumberland Valley High School (School), were observed by a school matron passing white blotter paper containing an unknown substance on school premises. The paper was seized by school officials. An analysis by the Pennsylvania State Police Laboratory of the substance contained in the blotter paper showed it to be Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD). D.C. told School officials that he had purchased the LSD from Appellant, a twelfth grade senior class student at the School.

The School notified Appellant by certified mail on May 21, that a hearing would be held on May 30 to determine what disciplinary action would be taken against Appellant. On May 29, Appellant was diagnosed as having infectious mononucleosis, and the hearing was therefore continued at Appellant's request until June 3. During this time, Appellant was allowed to attend classes and sit for his final examinations. The hearing was held on June 3, 1985, the last regular school day for seniors and the day senior grades were due to be turned in to school officials. Appellant's grades were given to School officials on this day by his teachers. The morning of the day the School's senior class was scheduled to graduate, June 6, 1985, the Board voted to expel Appellant permanently. Because of this expulsion, the Board has continuously refused to issue Appellant a diploma.

[ 113 Pa. Commw. Page 65]

Appellant appealed the Board's decision to the court of common pleas, challenging both the propriety of his expulsion and the Board's refusal to issue the diploma. The common pleas court, after a de novo hearing, ruled that the only issue it could consider was the propriety of Appellant's expulsion and held that Appellant's only possible avenue of relief to obtain his diploma was by way of mandamus. The Court further held that the Board had properly expelled Appellant for selling the LSD. This appeal follows on the sole issue of the Board's denial of the diploma.

The central issue in this appeal is whether a trial court may consider a request for ancillary relief when the propriety of the underlying local agency action is not challenged. We agree with Appellant that the trial court, under the circumstances of this case, should have considered the question of whether the Board abused its discretion in failing to issue a diploma to Appellant after he had completed his course requirements. The issue presented here by Appellant is one ancillary to Appellant's expulsion, yet not necessarily mooted by resolution of the expulsion issue. See Lehotzky v. State Civil Service Commission, 82 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 612, 477 A.2d 13 (1984). Therefore, the trial court erred by holding that this issue was not cognizable within the scope of a local agency appeal.

Ordinarily, after such a resolution, we would remand this case for further proceedings before the trial court. At oral argument before this Court,*fn1 however, and in their briefs, both parties have asked us to decide the issue not reached by the trial court in order ...


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