Can the Services of a School Custodian Be Terminated If He Is Found In Possession of Illegal Narcotics ?

In DeShields v. Chester Upland Sch. Dist., 95 Pa. Commw. 414, 505 A.2d 1080, 1084 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1986) a custodian was arrested, off district property, for the possession of 115 grams of marijuana, and a criminal proceeding was brought against him. The marijuana was excluded from the criminal case under the exclusionary rule, resulting in the dismissal of the criminal charges and the expungement of the custodian's arrest and prosecution. Following the entirety of the criminal proceeding, the school board conducted a hearing to terminate the custodian's employment or to reinstate his employment (he had been suspended without pay shortly after the arrest). The board concluded there was sufficient evidence to determine that he was in possession of the illegal substances to merit his termination, so the board voted to terminate him. This Court affirmed, noting that, in a previous case, it concluded that a custodian's harassing phone calls constituted sufficient basis to terminate his employment under Section 514, such that "the possession of illegal narcotics by a school custodian, a much more serious offense, must also be considered improper conduct [particularly because t]here is no question that a school custodian would have ample access to the student body, or a certain segment of a student body, if he had a mind toward that purpose." DeShields, 505 A.2d at 1084.