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Dept. of Registration And Education v. Aman

FEBRUARY 7, 1972.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County; the Hon. HOWARD L. WHITE, Judge, presiding.


The Circuit Court dismissed the complaint of the Department of Registration and Education of the State of Illinois filed under the Administrative Review Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 110, par. 264, et seq.) to review a decision of the Civil Service Commission. The court held that the decision of the Commission was not reviewable at the instance of the appointing authority.

The Department instituted proceedings to discharge James A. Aman, a professional license investigator of the Department. The employee appealed his discharge to the Civil Service Commission. A hearing was held at which testimony and documentary evidence was received on behalf of both the employee and the Department. The Civil Service Commission ordered that the employee be retained in his position.

The only issue is whether the right to review the decision of the Civil Service Commission is available to the Department. The truth or falsity of the charges against the employee is not now in issue.

Section 11a of the Personnel Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 127, par. 63b, 11a) provides:

"All final administrative decisions of the Civil Service Commission hereunder shall be subject to judicial review pursuant to the provisions of the `Administrative Review Act', approved May 8, 1945, as heretofore or hereafter amended. The term `administrative decision' is defined as in Section 1 of the `Administrative Review Act'."

Administrative decision is defined in Section 1 of the "Administrative Review Act" as "any decision, order or determination of any administrative agency rendered in a particular case, which affects the legal rights, duties or privileges of parties and which terminates the proceedings before the administrative agency".

The employee in support of the trial court's decision states as a proposition of law that one administrative agency of the state has no standing to appeal the decision of another administrative agency. He cites Cooper, State Administrative Law (Bobbs-Merrill 1965) p. 541, to the effect that one does not have "standing" to appeal an administrative determination unless he can show that he is "personally aggrieved", or show an injury or threat to a particular right of his own as distinguished from the public interest in the administration of the law.

We do not think that the statute of an administrative agency as a party to litigation can be judged upon grievance or injury in a "personal" respect. That language is ordinarily applied where an individual is attacking the action of an administrative agency as in 222 E. Chest. St. Corp. v. Bd. of Appeals, 14 Ill.2d 190, 152 N.E.2d 465. There the court held that property owners had not established sufficient individual injury to have standing. In Castleman v. Civil Service Commission, 58 Ill. App.2d 25, 206 N.E.2d 514, it was held that a taxpayer, as such, did not have standing to attack an order of the Civil Service Commission.

• 1 We do not find that there is any rigid general or constitutional principle that one governmental agency may not litigate the action of another agency of the same government. The question of "standing" in respect to an administrative agency depends rather upon "interest" or "duty" prescribed by statute. In United States v. Federal Power Com., 345 U.S. 153, 97 L.Ed. 918, 925, the Secretary of Interior was held to have standing to question the action of the Federal Power Commission. In United States v. ICC, 396 U.S. 491, 24 L.Ed.2d 700, the Department of Justice of the United States attacked the Interstate Commerce Commission's approval of a railroad merger, and the matter was determined upon its merits by the Supreme Court of the United States. In Wauconda Tp. School Dist. v. County Board, etc., 7 Ill. App.2d 65, 129 N.E.2d 177, the circuit court dismissed the complaint by Wauconda Township High School District No. 118 of Lake and McHenry Counties against the County Board of School Trustees of McHenry and School District No. 156 upon the ground that it appeared on the face of the complaint that the plaintiff had no legal capacity to sue. The stated reason was that the statute did not authorize a Board of Education to commence an action to review the administrative decision of a County Board of School Trustees in the matter of changing school district boundaries. The Appellate Court reversed.

The Court said at page 68:

"The sole question presented by this record is whether appellant, Wauconda Township High School District No. 118, is entitled to seek a review of the decision of the County Board of School Trustees, which decision detached from its district a substantial part of its territory.

Counsel for appellee insists that the Administrative Review Act does not specify the parties who may petition for a review of the decision of an administrative agency and that the matter of who may be a party plaintiff in such a proceeding is therefore governed by the provisions of the School Code and that its applicable provision limits the parties who may apply for a review under the Administrative Review Act to `any resident who appears at the hearing or any petitioner' (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1953, chap. 122, par. 4B-5 [Jones Ill. Stats. Ann. 123.754 B(5)]). Counsel argue that while the record discloses that appellant appeared at the hearing before the administrative agency, it owns no property, has no voting rights and cannot be held to be a resident within the meaning of the language used in this section of the School Code.

[1-6] School districts are involuntary political or civil divisions of the state created as auxiliaries of the state to aid in the general administration of government. A legally constituted school district is composed of the territory included within its corporate boundaries. It is a quasimunicipal corporation and the board of education of a school district is an agency of the state and not a subdivision thereof and is a separate and distinct corporation which furnished the method and machinery for the government and management of the district. (The People v. Thomas, 361 Ill. 448, 453; Melin v. Community Consol. School Dist. No. 76, 312 Ill. 376, 382; Fiedler v. Eckfeldt, 335 Ill. 11, 21). In the construction of our statutes, the words `person' or `persons', as well as all words referring to or importing persons may extend and be applied to bodies politic and corporate as well as individuals. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1953, chap. 31, sec. 1.05 [Jones Ill. Stats. Ann. 27.13(5)].) The word resident, as used in section 4B-5 of the School Code imports a person, ...

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