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06/17/97 DYNAMIC STUDENT SERVICES v. STATE SYSTEM

June 17, 1997

DYNAMIC STUDENT SERVICES, MICHAEL D. LIEBERMAN, AND DANIEL A. LIEBERMAN, APPELLANTS
v.
STATE SYSTEM OF HIGHER EDUCATION, MILLERSVILLE UNIVERSITY, AND WEST CHESTER UNIVERSITY, APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court dated February 28, 1996, at No. 207 M.D. 1995, quashing in part and denying in part the Petition for Review. JUDGE(S) BELOW: State System of Higher Education - / COMMONWEALTH - HON. BERNARD L. MCGINLEY.

Before: Flaherty, C.j., Zappala, Cappy, Castille, Nigro, & Newman, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Nigro

JUSTICE NIGRO

DECIDED: JUNE 17, 1997

Dynamic Student Services, Michael D. Lieberman, and Daniel A. Lieberman ("Appellants") appeal from the order of the Commonwealth Court quashing in part and denying in part the Petition for Review of decisions by the State System of Higher Education ("SSHE"), Millersville University ("Millersville"), and West Chester University ("West Chester"), which denied Appellants' request for information under the Right-To-Know Act, 65 Pa. C.S. §§ 66.1 - 66.4 (1959 & Supp. 1997) ("Act"). For the reasons presented herein, we affirm.

Appellants purchase used textbooks from the students at Millersville and West Chester, and sell both new and used textbooks as well. In doing so, they operate in competition with Student Services, Inc. ("SSI") and West Chester University Student Services, Inc. ("WCSSI"), two non-profit corporations that operate the campus bookstores at Millersville and West Chester, respectively.

For business reasons, Appellants requested that the universities provide them with two types of information:

a. registration material for the upcoming semester, including the assignments of professors to particular courses and course sections, the number of sections and the number of students enrolled per section, both preliminarily and as actually enrolled . . . .

b. Approved course material information, being identification of textbooks and other instructional materials approved for use in each course or section thereof.

Commw. Ct. Memorandum Op., dated 5/12/95, at 2.

Registration information at both universities is compiled and maintained by the university itself. Course material information, however, is not collected or retained by either university. See Commw. Ct. Memorandum Op., dated 5/12/95, at 3. Instead, this information is solicited from individual faculty members at West Chester and Millersville through the use of textbook order forms produced and furnished by WCSSI and SSI. Neither university is involved in the selection or ordering of course materials. Professors at each university personally decide which books will be required for the courses they teach; they then complete the order forms accordingly and return them to WCSSI, if at West Chester, or SSI, if at Millersville.

In response to Appellants' request, West Chester sought and obtained an agreement with WCSSI whereby information on course materials would be made available to Appellants by WCSSI once it was received. See R.R. at 212a. Also, West Chester agreed to supply the desired registration data, after initially refusing to do so. See Commw. Ct. Memorandum Op., dated 5/12/95, at 2. Millersville, on the other hand, provided Appellants with information on registration, but not on course materials. See id. at 3.

Appellants then contacted the SSHE seeking review of Millersville's refusal to supply course material information. On April 13, 1995, the SSHE declined to review Millersville's action.

On April 21, 1995, Appellants filed with the Commonwealth Court a Petition for Review addressed to the court's original and appellate jurisdiction. Appellants also filed an application for ...


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