Appeal by defendants from the Circuit Court of Moultrie
county; the Hon. GROVER W. WATSON, Judge, presiding. Heard in
this court at the February term, 1952. Reversed. Opinion filed
March 11, 1952. Released for publication April 7, 1952.
MR. JUSTICE WHEAT DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.
Defendant, Board of Education of School District No. 303 of Moultrie county, appeals from an order of the circuit court of Moultrie county directing that a writ of mandamus issue commanding defendant Board and its individual members to reinstate petitioner, George W. Donahoo, as a full-time teacher as of the beginning of the school year 1950-51 on the same terms and conditions under which petitioner was employed for the 1949-50 school year of said District.
Petitioner, a legally qualified and certified teacher, taught in the schools of defendant Board for the school year 1948-49 under a written contract providing for a salary of $2,250. By written contract he was re-employed for the school year 1949-50 at a salary of $2,500 and served out the second term. During both terms petitioner taught in a one-room country schoolhouse which was heated by a coal furnace during the whole of the first term and part of the second. While no provision was made therefor in the written contract for either term, petitioner was required to tend the furnace and to perform other janitor services in the schoolhouse as his predecessors had, over a period of many years. During the first term defendant Board paid petitioner $100 additional compensation for janitor fees and during the second term he was paid a like amount out of school funds as extra compensation for janitor work. The latter payment was apparently inadvertently made by the Board Treasurer without the Board's knowledge or approval.
Before the end of the 1949-50 term a gas furnace controlled by a thermostat was installed in the school building making it unnecessary to fire the furnace or carry coal and ashes. On March 23, 1950, petitioner was informed by the Superintendent of the School District and Board Member Rainey that the Board had passed a resolution offering him a contract for the coming year at a salary of $2,550, his duties to include teaching eight grades, if necessary, instead of seven as theretofore, and also to include performance of janitor services. Petitioner replied he would resign rather than accept such a contract, that he planned to seek another position, but that he would submit a letter by March 25 advising whether he would accept or reject the offer.
On the evening of March 23, petitioner telephoned the School District Superintendent and advised that he accepted the offer as it had been made that morning. He made no reply, however, to the Superintendent's question whether he accepted the janitor work, although he knew that was expected by the Board.
Thereafter, on the morning of March 25, 1950, petitioner handed Board Member Rainey the following letter:
"Lovington, Ill. Mar. 25, 1950
School Board Lovington Unit Dist. #303, Lovington, Ill.
I called Superintendent Henninger at ten o'clock p.m. Thursday the 23rd, telling him that I accepted the offer made to me earlier that day. That offer was an increase of fifty ($50.00) dollars over this year's salary of $2500.00 for teaching, as the records will show. There was to be no increase in the pay for the janitor work. I consider that I am hired and await your convenience for signing the contract.
Very truly yours, Geo. W. Donahoo"
On the evening of March 25, Board Member Rainey delivered to petitioner in person at his home the following letter:
"March 25, 1950 1:30 P.M. Mr. George W. Donahoo Lovington, Illinois
This is to notify you that your school contract for the year 1950-1951 at the White School in Lovington ...