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ARMSTRONG EDUCATION ASSOCIATION v. ARMSTRONG SCHOOL DISTRICT (06/06/88)

decided: June 6, 1988.

ARMSTRONG EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, APPELLANT
v.
ARMSTRONG SCHOOL DISTRICT, A SECOND CLASS SCHOOL DISTRICT, APPELLEE. ARMSTRONG SCHOOL DISTRICT, A SECOND CLASS SCHOOL DISTRICT, APPELLANT V. ARMSTRONG EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, APPELLEE



Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Armstrong County, in the case of Armstrong School District, a second class school district v. Armstrong Education Association, No. 1987-0032.

COUNSEL

William K. Eckel, for Armstrong Education Association.

C. Arthur Dimond, with him, John B. Bechtol, Steven P. Fulton and Joseph T. Moran, Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, for Armstrong School District.

William Fearen, with him, Michael I. Leven, Steven A. Stine, Cleckner and Fearen, Pennsylvania School Boards Association, Amicus Curiae.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr., and Judges Craig, MacPhail, Colins, Palladino, McGinley and Smith. Opinion by Judge MacPhail. Judge McGinley dissents. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Craig. Judge Colins joins this dissent.

Author: Macphail

[ 116 Pa. Commw. Page 573]

Before us are consolidated appeals pertaining to a teachers' strike in Armstrong County. The Court of Common Pleas of Armstrong County had ordered striking teachers to return to work; the Armstrong Education Association (Association) appeals that order. The court also directed, in a separate order, that the parties continue collective bargaining and to this end it established a schedule of required daily bargaining sessions of a pre-determined length.*fn1 The Armstrong School District (District) appeals from that order.

The trial court made the following findings. The District has 8,200 students, approximately 500 of which participate in special education programs. There are 512 professional employees who comprise the relevant collective bargaining unit. The District initially adopted a calendar for the 1986-87 school year providing for school to begin on September 3, 1986 and further providing for 180 instructional days on or before June 30, 1987. The Association commenced a work stoppage on

[ 116 Pa. Commw. Page 574]

September 3, 1986 through October 7, 1986, which resulted in the loss of 24 instructional days. The Association's members then returned to work. On January 5, 1987, the work stoppage resumed and the District sought injunctive relief.

The trial court determined that high school seniors were receiving instruction by supervisory employees but that it was deficient in quality; that high school seniors would be disadvantaged in applying to programs of higher education; that they would graduate too late to be admitted to summer school; that grades K-11 were receiving no instruction; that students in grades K-11 were subjected to the possibility of repeating a grade or receiving inadequate instruction in preparation for the next higher grade; that special education students would be adversely affected and that they were particularly vulnerable to interruption in their learning processes; that school lunch benefits would be lost to needy students; and that families with two working parents or one-parent families would be economically disadvantaged by the need to engage babysitters.

The trial court also found that as of January 9, 1987, 29 school days had been lost because of the strike and that if every available day between Monday, January 12, 1987 and June 30, 1987 were utilized (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and Memorial Day) it would be possible to hold 180 days of instruction assuming no further loss of time due to snow or other emergencies.

The court also noted that Section 1501 of the Public School Code of 1949,*fn2 24 P.S. ยง 15-1501, mandates that schools be kept open for at least 180 days of pupil instruction and that the Legislature has not authorized a reduction in instructional days due to a work ...


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