Are High School Principal's Recommendation to Appoint Teachers Arbitrable ?

In Apollo-Ridge School District v. Apollo-Ridge Educational Association, 799 A.2d 911 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2002), the school district's (District) board of school directors (Board) annually selected persons to lead various extracurricular programs offered to the District's secondary students. In the past, the Board had always adopted the high school principal's recommendations when making extra-duty assignments, but for the school year in question, the Board failed to follow the principal's recommendations, instead filling those positions with two people who were not members of the bargaining unit. The union filed grievances contending that the Board's failure to reappoint two teachers to those units violated the collective bargaining agreement. The District denied that the assignment of extra-duty work was covered by the collective bargaining agreements (CBA) and, therefore, contended that the grievances were not arbitrable. When the District and the Board were unable to resolve their differences, they submitted the grievances to arbitration. After a hearing, the arbitrator determined that the matter was arbitrable and sustained the Board's grievances and awarded back pay because the past practice had given rise to a local working condition protected by the CBA and, therefore, the Board was obligated to assign extra-duty work to those persons recommended by the high school principal. The Court reversed because it could not rationally be derived from the collective bargaining agreement that elected officials who were given the sole power and discretion in selecting persons to fill extra-duty positions had conceded that power to the high school principal just because the Board accepted the principal's recommendation in the past.