Is Drug Possession Off School Grounds Punishable ?
In Sch. Dist. of Philadelphia v. Puljer, 92 Pa. Commw. 329, 500 A.2d 905, 907 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1985), the Court rejected a trial court's conclusion that the custodian's drug possession was not punishable because it occurred off school grounds.
The Court held that:
We vigorously disagree with the trial court's interpretation of this section.
The trial court's holding that improper conduct must occur on or about school property is wholly without foundation in the statutory language.
No qualification is attached to the phrase "other improper conduct".
The School Board has discretion in deciding what conduct is improper for its employees who act as adult models for school children.
To limit this discretion because of the location or effect of the conduct is not reasonable, and is inconsistent with this Court's case law. See, e.g., Lesley v. Oxford Area School District, 54 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 120, 420 A.2d 764 (1980) (teacher's dismissal for shoplifting at a supermarket upheld as immoral conduct.)
We hold that whether improper conduct takes place on or off school property or whether it affects job performance is irrelevant.
The only question presented to the Board was whether Appellee's possession of controlled substances constituted improper conduct. We hold that it did. Puljer, 500 A.2d at 907.
As the Court noted in PHA, "serious misconduct is of a sort which has a direct negative impact on the public function of the employing agency ... putting at risk those persons the agency is charged to serve." PHA, 900 A.2d at 1051.