Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Mifflin County in the case of Mifflin County School District v. Linda A. Lutz, Association of Mifflin County Educators and American Arbitration Association, Civil Action No. 813 of 1987.
Priscilla M. Walrath, Walrath & Coolidge, for appellants.
Norman L. Levin, Brugler & Levin, for appellee.
Judges Craig and Palladino, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 122 Pa. Commw. Page 113]
This is an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Mifflin County which stayed arbitration proceedings and enjoined Linda A. Lutz, the Association of Mifflin County Educators and the American Arbitration Association from proceeding to arbitration of the dismissal of Lutz from her teaching position.
The Mifflin County School District employed Lutz as a temporary professional employee. On April 6, 1987, the school district terminated her employment, citing an unsatisfactory rating as the cause for dismissal.
Lutz had her collective bargaining unit representative, the Association of Mifflin County Educators (AMCE), file a grievance on her behalf. AMCE pursued the grievance through the first five steps prescribed by the relevant collective bargaining agreement (agreement).
[ 122 Pa. Commw. Page 114]
Upon having the grievance denied at all steps, AMCE requested that the matter be submitted to arbitration. The school district then filed an action in equity before the common pleas court, asking the court to enjoin Lutz, AMCE and the American Arbitration Association from proceeding to arbitration. Pursuant to the Uniform Arbitration Act, 42 Pa. C.S. § 7304(b), the trial court granted the school district's request, giving rise to this appeal.
The general question to be decided is whether the collective bargaining agreement includes dismissals based on ratings when the agreement directs that grievances proceed through a six-step procedure culminating with binding arbitration. The subject of "dismissal" is not specifically addressed in the agreement between the school district and AMCE.
Section 1108 of the Public School Code of 1949 (Code)*fn1 provides that "[n]o temporary professional employee shall be dismissed unless rated unsatisfactory." Furthermore, an unsatisfactory rating given in accordance with section 1123 of the Code, 24 P.S. § 11-1123, "is the only prerequisite necessary for dismissal" of a temporary professional employee. Nicolella v. Trinity Area School Board, 444 Pa. 544, 550, 281 A.2d 832, 835 (1971).
Moreover, section 10-2(A) of the agreement here states that " a claim involving application of established Board policy or teacher ratings, not explicitly contained in this agreement, may be processed through the grievance procedure herein provided, up to the Board Level (Step V), but shall not be subject to arbitration (Step VI)." (Emphasis added.) ...