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Community Cons. School Dist. No. 210 v. Mini

JUNE 8, 1972.

COMMUNITY CONSOLIDATED SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 210, LA SALLE COUNTY ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS AND CROSS-APPELLEES,

v.

JOE L. MINI, COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS OF LA SALLE COUNTY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES AND CROSS-APPELLANTS.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of La Salle County; the Hon. LEONARD E. HOFFMAN, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE SCOTT DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

On October 18, 1968, a petition was filed in the office of Joe L. Mini, County Superintendent of Schools of La Salle County, hereinafter referred to as the Superintendent, requesting that an election be called for the purpose of voting for or against the establishment of a community unit district embracing certain territory described in the petition. The petition first came on for hearing before the Superintendent on March 3, 1969, at which time written objections were filed in the proceedings by a number of the residents and several boards of education. During the course of the hearing held before the Superintendent it was stipulated between the parties that the population in the proposed unit district was not less than 1750 but was less than 4000. On April 14, 1969, the Superintendent found that the population in the proposed district was as stipulated and further stated in a written order as follows:

"I further find that in light of the decision I am making, that additional action will be required by the Department of Public Instruction of the State of Illinois as provided for in Sec. 11-6 of Chapt. 122 of the Illinois Revised Statutes of the State of Illinois."

Subsequently on the same date the Superintendent entered the following order:

"It is hereby ordered that the petition filed in the office of the Superintendent of Schools, La Salle County, Illinois, on the 18th day of October, 1968, be granted and that an election be called for the purpose of voting for or against the establishment of a community unit school district within the territory described in said petition."

On May 16, 1969, a petition for administrative review of this order was filed by the various objectors, hereinafter referred to as plaintiffs, in the circuit court of La Salle County. On May 26, 1969, the Superintendent filed his answer to the petition. On May 4, 1970, an amendment to the complaint for administrative review was filed by the plaintiffs attacking the constitutionality of Section 11-6, Chapter 122 of the Illinois Revised Statutes on the ground that the section violated provisions of Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States and Sections 2 and 19 of Article II and Section 1 of Article VIII of the Constitution of the State of Illinois.

On May 4, 1970, the Superintendent had filed in the proceedings a report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of the State of Illinois. This report by order of court was later stricken and physically removed from the file of the proceedings. After hearing the circuit court of La Salle County overruled all of the plaintiffs' contentions including those directed to the constitutionality of Section 11-6 of the School Code and entered an order confirming the decision of the Superintendent which authorized an election as prayed for in the original petition.

After the filing of several post-hearing motions by the parties the plaintiffs elected to prosecute this appeal based solely on the constitutional questions involved. A cross appeal was filed but the controlling issue presented to this court is whether Section 11-6 of Chapter 122 of the 1967 Illinois Revised Statutes meets the requisite constitutional requirements.

The plaintiffs question the constitutionality of that portion of the School Code which they refer to as the "special procedure" portion pertaining to the organization of community unit school districts having less than 2,000 population. The specific portion of the 1967 statute with which we are concerned reads as follows:

"* * * [A]ny contiguous and compact territory, no part of which is included within any community unit school district, having a population of not less than 1500 and not more than 500,000 persons and an equalized assessed valuation of not less than $10,000,000 may be organized into a community unit school district as provided in this Article, if the special procedure later set forth in this Section for a district below 2000 population is followed by the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the County Superintendent of Schools of the county in which the territory or the greater part thereof is situated.

* * * However, prior to calling any such election for organizing any such proposed district that does not have 2000 or more population, the County Superintendent of Schools shall transmit to the Superintendent of Public Instruction a notice of the petition whereupon the Superintendent of Public Instruction shall prepare the notification or report indicating whether or not he deems it possible for the proposed district to provide a recognized school program for a 12 grade district under conditions set forth in that Section. The County Superintendent shall cause a copy of such report to be published as provided in that Section." Chap. 122, Sec. 11-6, Ill. Rev. Stat.

It is the plaintiffs' contention that this "special procedure" portion of the statute is so vague, indefinite, uncertain and incomplete so as to be unconstitutional and void.

In order to determine the issue presented by this appeal it is necessary for us to acquaint ourselves with a brief history of certain portions of the School Code. Prior to 1941 there were no provisions in the code containing any requirements for the submission by the County Superintendent of Schools of a notice of the filing of a petition to the Superintendent of Public Instruction, nor were there any requirements regarding the report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. In 1941 the legislature amended the School Code by adding Section 89c, and that section contained essentially the same provisions as were later to be found in Section 10-13 and finally in Section 12-4 of the School Code. Those sections contained all the standards and guide lines to be followed by the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the County Superintendent of Schools in connection with the petitions for the establishment of community high school districts and community unit school districts. Chapter 122, Section 12-4 of the 1963 Illinois Revised Statutes provided as follows:

"Par. 12-4. Superintendent of Public Instruction — Determination of compactness and contiguity — Report for information of voters. When a petition for the organization of a community high school district has been filed with a county superintendent of schools, in accordance with the provisions of this Act, such county superintendent shall promptly transmit a notice of the petition to the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Upon receipt of the notice, the Superintendent of Public Instruction shall, in cooperation with the superintendent of schools of the county or counties in which the territory of the proposed ...


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