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People Ex Rel. Irish v. Board of Education

JULY 29, 1955.

PEOPLE OF STATE OF ILLINOIS EX REL. EBEN J. IRISH ET AL., PETITIONERS-APPELLANTS,

v.

BOARD OF EDUCATION OF COMMUNITY UNIT SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 175, MCDONOUGH AND HANCOCK COUNTIES, ILLINOIS, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION; LINDSEY GEORGE METCALF ET AL., AS MEMBERS OF BOARD OF EDUCATION OF COMMUNITY UNIT SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 175, MCDONOUGH AND HANCOCK COUNTIES, ILLINOIS, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of McDonough county; the Hon. BURTON A. ROETH, Judge, presiding. Affirmed.

MR. JUSTICE CARROLL DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

At a special election called by the Board of Education of Community Unit School District No. 175, in McDonough and Hancock Counties, three propositions were submitted to the voters of said District. These propositions were: (1) for the purchase of an additional school site, (2) for building a new school building, and (3) for the issuance of bonds in the amount of $515,000 for the purpose of purchasing an additional schoolhouse site and building a new school building.

All 3 of these propositions were carried at the election but by extremely narrow margins.

On February 8, 1954, a petition to contest the results of said election was filed in the Circuit Court of Hancock County. A hearing on this petition resulted in a finding and an order that a majority of the votes cast in the election were in favor of each of the 3 propositions and that the same were duly carried.

On June 10, 1954, the Board of Education, at a regular meeting, adopted a resolution abandoning the building program embraced within the 3 propositions as submitted at the special election. This resolution recites a finding by the Board pursuant to a study of the needs of the District, that it was not for the best interests of the District to purchase the additional site, build a new school building and issue bonds for such purposes, and that it was not necessary or for the best interests of the School District that any of said propositions be acted upon or carried out. The resolution further recites that in view of such findings and the changed conditions in the District and the closeness of the vote at said election, the proposed building program should be abandoned.

Following the adoption of the resolution, petitioners, as residents and electors of the said School District brought the instant proceeding for a Writ of Mandamus to compel the Board of Education to proceed with the building program in accordance with the propositions carried at the election.

By stipulation, petitioners admitted the adoption of the resolution by the defendant Board of Education but denied that said adoption was in the proper exercise of the powers of said Board. By further stipulation, the cause was submitted on the complaint, answer and stipulation.

The Court denied the Writ and entered judgment for defendants, and petitioners have appealed.

The single issue to be decided on this appeal is whether the Board of Education is vested with discretionary authority to abandon the building program approved by the voters in the special election.

Determination of this issue rests on the construction placed upon Sec. 7-17, Chap. 122, Ill. Rev. Statutes 1953 [Jones Ill. Stats. Ann. 123.847], which enumerates certain powers conferred upon Boards of Education. The portion of said Section with which we are concerned, reads in part as follows:

"To buy or lease one or more sites for schoolhouses, with necessary ground, and to purchase, build or move a schoolhouse, but shall not purchase a schoolhouse site, or purchase, build or move a schoolhouse, unless authorized by a majority of all votes cast on the proposition at an election called for such purpose by the board. . . ."

Petitioners contend that the above statutory provision is to be interpreted as meaning that when the majority of electors of a School District by a majority vote, approve a proposition to purchase a site and build a schoolhouse, such authorization imposes upon the Board of Education the mandatory duty to proceed to carry out the program embraced within such proposition.

It is the well-established rule that a Writ of Mandamus will only lie to compel the performance of a specific legal duty. People v. Webb, 256 Ill. 364.

It therefore becomes necessary to determine whether it is the clear legal duty of the defendants to do or perform that which ...


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