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SCRANTON SCHOOL DISTRICT v. CAROL WEISS (02/11/88)

decided: February 11, 1988.

SCRANTON SCHOOL DISTRICT, APPELLANT
v.
CAROL WEISS, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County in the case of Carol Weiss v. Scranton School District, No. 85 Civil, 3843.

COUNSEL

Thomas D. Brown, with him, Edwin A. Abrahamsen and Carolyn M. Piccotti, Abrahamsen, Moran, Connolly & Conaboy, P.C., for appellant.

A. Martin Herring, Herring and Donahue, for appellee.

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

Author: Barry

[ 113 Pa. Commw. Page 382]

Scranton School District (District) appeals from the entry of summary judgment entered in favor of Carol Weiss (appellee) by the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County, which declared that appellee was entitled to a sabbatical leave pursuant to Section 1166 of the Public School Code of 1949 (Code).*fn1

Appellee was first employed by the District for the 1974-1975 school year, at which time she taught at the

[ 113 Pa. Commw. Page 383]

East Scranton Junior High School as a temporary professional employee. During the 1975-1976 school year, she was employed with the School District as a day to day substitute. She remained as an employee of the School District for the 1976-1977 and 1977-1978 school years, working as a permanent substitute teacher, although she started the 1977-1978 school year as a "long term substitute" and was later retroactively reclassified as a "permanent substitute".*fn2 For the 1978-1979 school year, she continued her teaching career with the School District at the East Scranton Junior High as a regular teacher. She was assigned to the East Scranton Intermediate School for the 1979-1980 school year as a regular teacher and she remained there for the next five school years in that capacity. During this 10 year period of employment with the School District, appellee's service was always determined to be satisfactory.

By letter dated April 9, 1985 and directed to the Manager of Personnel Services of the District, appellee requested a sabbatical leave based on her service with the District. By his letter dated April 22, 1985, the Manager of Personnel Services notified the appellee that her request for a sabbatical leave was being denied because she had only eight of the ten years of service that were required by the Code to be eligible for a sabbatical leave. It was the position of the District that the two years that appellee had been employed as a permanent substitute teacher did not constitute service as a "professional employee or member of the supervisory, instructional or administrative staff" of the District.

[ 113 Pa. Commw. Page 384]

Appellee then filed a declaratory judgment action against the District, in which she sought a ruling that she was entitled to a sabbatical leave as requested and as authorized by the Code. After the District had filed its answer to appellee's petition for declaratory judgment and a deposition of the Manager of Personnel Services had been taken, appellee filed a motion for summary judgment. On July 31, 1986, Judge James J. Walsh of the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County entered an order granting summary judgment, thereby declaring that appellee was entitled to the sabbatical leave she had requested. This appeal then followed.

A court is directed to enter a summary judgment in favor of a moving party "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Pa. R.C.P. No. 1035(b). In the present matter, there is no dispute as to the facts concerning the number of school years appellee had been employed by the District or the capacity in which she was employed during each of those school years. The sole issue is one of law; namely whether Section 1166 of the Code is to be construed to require treatment of appellee's years of service with the District in the capacity of a permanent substitute teacher ...


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