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Hankenson v. Board of Education of Waukegan Tp.

APRIL 3, 1956.




Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake county; the Hon. WILLIAM M. CARROLL, Judge, presiding. Reversed and remanded with directions.


Rehearing denied May 28, 1956.

This is a complaint for judicial review, under the Administrative Review Act (Ch. 110, Ill. Rev. Stats., 1953, par. 264 ff) of the final administrative decision of March 15, 1954, of the defendant administrative agency, Board of Education of Waukegan Township High School District No. 119, Lake County, Illinois, removing or dismissing the plaintiffs, Homer Hankenson and Avis Youngberg, as teachers, presumably for the ensuing school year 1954-1955, although the resolution of the defendant Board effecting the removals or dismissals does not specifically state whether the removals or dismissals are effective instanter March 15, 1954 or as of and for the ensuing school year. The plaintiffs contend that they have acquired contractual continued service status as tenure teachers under the Teacher Tenure Law, a part of The School Code (Ch. 122, Ill. Rev. Stats., 1953, pars. 24-2 to 24-8), and that the defendant's attempted removals or dismissals are contrary to the provisions of that law and violate their rights thereunder. The defendant contends that the removals or dismissals are in accordance with the provisions of Section 24-3 of that law (Ch. 122, Ill. Rev. Stats., 1953, par. 24-3) and are entirely proper thereunder. That law, Section 24-8, provides that the provisions of the Administrative Review Act shall apply to proceedings for the judicial review of final administrative decisions of the School Board under Section 24-3 thereof (Ch. 122, Ill. Rev. Stats., 1953, par. 24-8).

The pleadings consist of the plaintiffs' verified complaint, the defendant's motion (pursuant to the Administrative Review Act) for specification of errors and to strike, the plaintiffs' specification of errors, the defendant's verified answer, to which is attached what the defendant says is the entire record or a certified copy of the record of the proceedings of the defendant administrative agency relating to the removals or dismissals which are under review, and in which answer the defendant says certain parts of the complaint contain the full and complete minutes of its meetings in any way dealing with "the decision of the defendant to decrease the number of teachers employed by" it, and the defendant's motion to strike paragraph 12 and a part of paragraph 15 of the complaint. On February 7, 1955, upon the defendant's motion, paragraph 12 and the indicated part of paragraph 15 were stricken as being immaterial and surplusage, and on the same date a judgment order was entered finding, so far as material, that the defendant had complied with Section 24-3 of the foregoing statute, that that section governed the defendant's actions, and that the Board of Education's order dismissing the plaintiffs should be affirmed, and the court accordingly entered judgment for the defendant and affirmed its decision. The plaintiffs have appealed from that judgment order and from the order of the same date striking the foregoing portions of the complaint.

No evidence was heard by the defendant administrative agency, but from the pleadings and record it appears that the essential facts, for the purposes of the case, are, in substance, these: the plaintiffs are regularly employed teachers in and for the high school district here concerned at Waukegan Township High School. One of them has been so employed since the first day of the school term in September, 1948, and ever since then; the other has been so employed since the first day of the school term in September, 1951, and ever since then. Prior to the events herein complained of they had entered upon contractual continued service under the provisions of Article 24 of the School Code (the Teacher Tenure Law), and had theretofore served as probationary teachers in the district for two consecutive years. They are duly certificated, qualified to teach certain subjects, and did teach certain subjects. The defendant Board is a body politic and corporate under The School Code, derives its powers thereunder, and maintains and operates the high school here concerned. The plaintiffs have always held contracts to teach with the defendant, and held such contracts under The School Code, including the Teacher Tenure Law, for the school year 1953-4. They are citizens, over 21, and under 65 years. On March 15, 1954, the defendant Board adopted a resolution removing, dismissing, or discharging the plaintiffs, — which resolution we shall hereinafter refer to in more detail, — and that is the administrative decision presently under judicial review. On March 17, 1954, the plaintiffs received letters from the school principal, dated March 16th, informing them of the dismissals, to which letters we shall also later refer. The defendant Board purported to act under Section 24-3 of The School Code. The enrollment of the high school will be diminished by about 581 students for the school year 1954-5. On March 25, 1954, the plaintiffs made written requests to the defendant for hearings, which were not granted, and no hearings were held to which the plaintiffs were parties or of which they had notice.

The resolution of March 15, 1954 of the defendant Board, adopted at a regular meeting at which all the members were present, removing, dismissing, or discharging the plaintiffs (and certain other teachers) was as follows:


Upon the recommendation of the Education Committee, it was moved by Mrs. Hathorne, seconded by Mrs. Smith, that the following teachers be informed by registered mail and given statement of honorable discharge and the reason therefor, namely, the separation of North Chicago territory from Waukegan Township High School District No. 119.

Miss Wilma Bartimus Mr. Carlton Buerger Mr. Homer Hankenson Miss Patricia Haviland Miss Eloise Hindman Mrs. Evelyn Hickox Mr. Joseph Schwaninger Miss Rowena Vaniman Mr. Lawrence Wieczorek Miss Avis Youngberg Mr. Ralph Lane

After due consideration thereof by the Board, the President put the question, and upon roll call being had, the following members voted: Ayes: Hathorne, Long, McDonough, Seidenfeld, and Smith. Nays: Jones and Kirby. Absent: None. The majority of votes being cast in favor of the motion, President Jones declared the motion carried."

Prior to that, on February 15, 1954, the Education Committee of the defendant Board had addressed a communication, recommendation, letter, or report to the defendant Board which was as follows:

"February 15, 1954

Board of Education WTHS District #119 ...

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