Argued June 15, 2015
Appealed from No. 2014-939. Common Pleas Court of the County of Franklin. Krom, J.
Richard B. Galtman, Huntingdon Valley, for appellant.
BEFORE: HONORABLE ROBERT SIMPSON, Judge, HONORABLE P. KEVIN BROBSON, Judge, HONORABLE JAMES GARDNER COLINS, Senior Judge.
P. KEVIN BROBSON, J.
Chambersburg Area School District (CASD), appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of the 39th Judicial District, Franklin County Branch (trial court), denying its petition to vacate an arbitrator's award. For the reasons discussed below, we affirm.
Shawn Shreffler (Shreffler) is a fifth grade teacher at Hamilton Heights Elementary School in CASD, a job he has held for more than two decades. As an elementary school teacher, Shreffler is protected under the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between CASD and the Chambersburg Area Education Association (Association), the recognized bargaining unit of CASD's professional employees. Beginning with the 1997-1998 season, Shreffler was also hired as the Head Coach of the varsity boys' basketball team. Shreffler continued to serve as Head Coach through the end of the 2011-2012 season. Thereafter, on April 25, 2012, the School Board (Board) voted 5-4 not to reappoint Shreffler as Head Coach. On August 8, 2012, the Board appointed someone else to fill the position beginning with the 2012-2013 season.
On April 27, 2012, the Association filed a grievance on behalf of Shreffler, via telephone, with the principal of Hamilton Heights Elementary. The Association alleged that CASD violated the CBA and past practice when the Board voted not to retain Shreffler as Head Coach without just cause. The principal denied the grievance later that day. The grievance was thereafter submitted to and denied by both the CASD Superintendent and the Board.
Although CASD maintained that Shreffler's dismissal as Head Coach was not arbitrable, the parties proceeded to arbitration and selected Diana S. Mulligan as arbitrator (Arbitrator). The parties agreed to bifurcate the hearing, and testimony taken at the first hearing on March 5, 2013, was limited to whether or not " a member of a professional bargaining unit can avail himself of any contractual and/or legal rights when he is functioning as a coach." (Reproduced Record (R.R.) 23a.) On June 3, 2013, the Arbitrator issued her first award (First Award), finding that the grievance was arbitrable. The Arbitrator identified relevant provisions of the CBA, including Article I, Sections 1.2 (defining the bargaining unit) and 1.5.B (other exclusions from the bargaining unit), Article II, Section 2.6 (just cause provision), Article IV, Section 4.1 (reservation of power by the Board), Article X, Sections 10.1 (grievance procedure) and 10.2 (restrictions on arbitration), Article XIII, Sections 13.3 (salary payment) and 13.4 (extra-duty pay schedule), and Exhibit E (exhibit listing extra-duty pay per advisor). The Arbitrator noted that this was an issue of first impression between CASD and the Association and that the arguments addressed, inter alia, " just cause, the right of [CASD] to unilaterally appoint/retain coaches, the fact that coaches' salaries are bargained for and appear in the CBA, the role of past practice in retention of coaches, management rights, limitations on an Arbitrator's authority, and the finality clause." (R.R. 23a.) The Arbitrator explained that the " key to the solution of the instant problem is Section 1.5.B, referred to by [the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) Field Director for the Southern
Region] as excluding the professional bargaining unit members from the exclusions." (R.R. 23-24a.) Article I, Section 1.5.B provides:
The following employees of [CASD] are agreed by the parties not to be included within the bargaining unit as defined aforesaid. It is further agreed that nothing contained in this agreement shall apply to such employees, and that nothing contained in this agreement shall apply to the benefit of any person otherwise a member of the bargaining unit while employed in any such position unless such person has been specifically directed by [CASD] to perform such duties in his or her capacity as a professional employee:
. . .
B. Any person engaged in the summer recreational program, or any recreational program in which such employee's participation is a matter for such employee's voluntary participation. This clause shall not include employees otherwise members of the bargaining unit engaged in supervising, advising, or assisting in the conduct of any extracurricular activity recognized as such by [CASD].
R.R. 351a (emphasis added).) The Arbitrator reasoned:
If the Section B. language was restricted to summer recreational programs, [CASD] might have prevailed on the arbitrability issue, but that provision also includes " any recreational programs" in which an employee voluntarily participates. There was no testimony or evidence showing which party proposed that language or what their intent was in so doing. Mr. Schreffler [sic] is a [CASD] employee and was not forced to be a basketball coach. In its brief (p.15), [CASD] argues that Section B. is irrelevant because " any recreational program" has nothing to do with coaching positions or athletic events. I disagree. Playing basketball is not a Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) requirement for graduation. Although basketball may be among those after school activities referred to as a " sport," sports are clearly extra-curricular recreational activities. Basketball is also recognized as an activity by [CASD] since the various positions and their attendant salaries are in the CBA. The basketball coach certainty supervises the conduct of games and may advise his/her assistants in how to conduct the game. It is this contractual language which tipped the scales in favor of arbitrability.
R.R. 24a.) Thus, the Arbitrator concluded: " Under the language of Article I, Section 1.5.B., a professional employee who is also employed by the CASD as a basketball coach, has the right to file a grievance and take it to arbitration should efforts at settlement be unsuccessful." (R.R. 24a.)
At the second hearing, the Arbitrator considered whether CASD violated the CBA when it failed to reappoint Shreffler as Head Coach for the 2012-2013 season, and, if so, what remedy was available. The Arbitrator issued her second award (Second Award) on February 12, 2014, finding that the Board did not have just cause to remove Shreffler as Head Coach ...