Appeal from the Circuit Court of Madison County; the Hon.
JOSEPH J. BARR, Judge, presiding. Judgment affirmed.
Rehearing denied June 14, 1966.
Plaintiff appeals from the judgment of the Circuit Court of Madison County. Since the judgment was entered on the pleadings, the pleadings will be reviewed.
Plaintiff's amended complaint states that plaintiff is a resident of Granite City, holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts degrees from St. Louis University, and has been employed by defendant as an elementary school teacher for a probationary period of two consecutive school terms, the second of which was completed on June 7, 1963. Plaintiff alleges further that defendant, acting pursuant to the provisions of chapter 122, section 24-11, Ill Rev Stats 1961, informed plaintiff, by registered letter dated March 28, 1963, that his employment as a teacher would not be continued after the close of the current school year, i.e., after June 7, 1963. The letter stated "The reason for termination of your employment is that your present certificate does not meet the requirements of the school district for the fulfillment of your present position." The amended complaint alleges that the written notice did not comply with the requirements of section 24-11 (supra) which provides: "Any teacher who has been employed in any district as a full time teacher for a probationary period of two consecutive school terms shall enter upon contractual continued service unless given written notice of dismissal stating the specific reason therefor, by registered mail by the employing board at least 60 days before the end of such period." Plaintiff further alleges that he acquired tenure status as of June 7, 1963, and that despite his written request, defendant has refused to employ him during the school year which commenced in September 1963. He alleges the existence of an actual controversy and prays for a declaratory judgment. (Ill Rev Stats 1961, c 110, § 57-1).
Defendant's answer to the amended complaint admits plaintiff was employed by defendant, admits the giving of notice as alleged, and denies plaintiff acquired tenure status.
Plaintiff moved for judgment on the pleadings, the circuit court considered the motion, found that the notice was a valid notice of dismissal, that plaintiff had not acquired tenure status under the provisions of section 24-11, entered judgment for defendant, and this appeal followed.
The sole question presented by the pleadings is whether the notice given by means of the letter of March 28, 1963, complies with the provisions of section 24-11.
In Donahoo v. Board of Education of School Dist. No. 303, 413 Ill. 422, 109 N.E.2d 787, the Supreme Court held that the giving of a specific reason for dismissal is mandatory, but counsel have not cited, nor has this court found, any Illinois cases in which the term "specific reason" is defined. We define it to mean that it must fairly apprise the teacher of the alleged deficiency upon which the employer-school board bases its action, and with sufficient specificity to enable the teacher to refute the charge.
The notice given plaintiff advised him that his employment was being terminated because his certificate did not meet the defendant school district's requirements for the fulfillment of his present position. This created a single issue, either plaintiff's certificate met the district's requirements, or it did not. Plaintiff makes no issue of whether his certificate, in fact, met the requirements of the school district, whether the requirements were established by prior appropriate action of the school board, and if so established, whether they were reasonable.
In our opinion the reason given in the notice was sufficiently specific to meet the statutory requirement and the judgment of the Circuit Court of Madison County is affirmed.
EBERSPACHER, J., concurs.
I cannot believe that the legislature intended that a probationary teacher's employment could be terminated by a school board for the nebulous reason given the appellant. Section 24-11 of chapter 122, Illinois Revised Statutes, 1961, provides that the probationary teacher is entitled to a specific reason for his dismissal. A reason that is not specific is equivalent to no reason. The reason given for ...