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Burnidge v. School Trustees of Kane County

MAY 16, 1960.

LOGAN BURNIDGE, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,

v.

COUNTY BOARD OF SCHOOL TRUSTEES OF KANE COUNTY, ILLINOIS, AND COMMUNITY UNIT SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 301, KANE AND DEKALB COUNTIES, ILLINOIS, APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane county; the Hon. CHARLES G. SEIDEL, Judge, presiding. Judgment affirmed.

SPIVEY, J.

This is an appeal from an order of the Circuit Court of Kane County reversing an order of the County Board of School Trustees of Kane County, hereafter called the "Board." Plaintiffs, land owners in Community Unit School District No. 301, Kane and DeKalb Counties, petitioned to detach 110 acres from Community Unit School District No. 301, Kane and DeKalb Counties, Illinois, hereafter called "Plato District." Plaintiffs asked that the land be annexed to Elgin District No. 46, hereafter called "Elgin District." Three hearings were held and on three occasions the Board denied the petition to detach. On complaint for administrative review after each of the first two hearings, the Circuit Court of Kane County remanded the cause for further evidence before the Board. After the Board's third order, the Circuit Court reversed the Board for the reason that the Board's order was not supported by substantial evidence, and for the further reason that the order was contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence. The petition to detach the territory from Plato District was allowed and the territory was annexed to the Elgin District.

Plato District has appealed from the order of the Circuit Court of Kane County.

At the time this petition was filed, the plaintiff land owners lived in the Elgin District and no one lived on the land sought to be detached from the Plato District, and annexed to the Elgin District. It is fair to say that the land was sought to be subdivided and developed and this desire prompted the petition to detach.

When the first hearing was held, the Secretary of the County Board of School Trustees submitted his report as required of him by statute (Ill. Rev. Stat., 1955, Chapter 122, Sec. 4B-4). The Secretary reported that the proposed changes would affect the districts, "Very little at present, depending on housing development," and as amended the requested changes in the petition would not change the compact and contiguous character of the districts.

Petitioners, on behalf of the petition testified that they lived in the Elgin District adjoining the area contained in the petition. They related that it was three miles to the Elgin schools, but ten or eleven miles to the Plato High School and three or four miles to the Udina School. It was said that the children were taken to the schools at night for various activities and it would be much easier for the families to come into Elgin and the children to go to school there. Petitioners testified that the granting of the petition would be of benefit to the people buying the land.

At the first hearing, no evidence was offered in opposition to the petition but the petition was denied "in order to maintain a regular school district boundary and because no children are actually living in areas wishing to be detached." On administrative review, the Circuit Court remanded the cause for the taking of additional evidence.

When the matter was presented to the Board for a second hearing, a witness who then lived in the territory testified that his children were in school in the Elgin District; that he wanted the children to stay in that district and that it was closer to the Elgin schools. Evidence was offered to show that the students bus travel time would be greatly reduced if they were allowed to attend school in the Elgin District. A witness testified that the area sought to be detached has always been identified with the community of Elgin and that it would be much easier to attend school affairs in the Elgin District. A real estate broker testified the lots in the territory would appreciate $500 in value if the land was in the Elgin District. He further testified he had at least five prospective customers lose all interest in a lot when they learned the property was in the Plato District.

Again no evidence was offered in opposition to the petition and again the Board denied the petition. The Board found that substantially equal educational facilities were provided by both districts but that the distance to Plato District was greater although adequate transportation was provided. The Board also found that the value of the property would appreciate if attached to the Elgin District, and that no important effect would be realized by either district if the change were made.

On administrative review for a second time the court remanded the cause to the Board for further evidence and a third hearing was held. Again the testimony showed that the Elgin District was closer than the Plato District and that school age children were now residing in the territory. One parent testified that if his three children were required to attend the Plato District the next year, each of them would be attending a different school although the oldest of the three was but ten years old. Another parent testified that if his son were required to attend the Plato District and participated in sports as he did in the Elgin District, the father would have to drive eleven miles nightly as compared to three miles in the Elgin District. This he stated would prevent his son from participating in extra curricular sports at the Plato District.

The secretary of the Board testified that essentially, the educational facilities were equal in the two districts but he stated that the Elgin District offered a Community College program, whereas no such program was offered by the Plato District. The superintendent of the Plato District testified that his district offered courses in agriculture, whereas no such course was offered in the Elgin District. The board again denied the petition.

Reviewing the evidence carefully, the evidence shows that the educational facilities of the districts are essentially equal. The testimony clearly showed a natural identification of the territory with the Elgin District, a physical closeness of the territory to the Elgin District, a preference by the owners and residents of the territory to the Elgin District, an actual appreciation in land value in the territory if attached to the Elgin District, and a convenience to the parents and children living in the territory if the children are allowed to continue to attend the Elgin District. If these factors are entitled to consideration it is abundantly clear that the Board's order was contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence and the Circuit Court of Kane County properly reversed the order of the Board and allowed the prayer of the petition.

This court may not weigh the evidence in this proceeding for administrative review. However, we may review the record to determine if the decision of the board is supported by any evidence, or is contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence. Pearson v. Board of Education, Community Unit School Dist. No. 5, Macoupin County, 12 Ill. App.2d 44, 138 N.E.2d 326; Community Unit School ...


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