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Waller v. Board of Education

AUGUST 17, 1973.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Pulaski County; the Hon. GEORGE OROS, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied October 10, 1973.

This is an appeal by plaintiff-appellant, Delbert Waller, from a judgment of the Circuit Court of Pulaski County upholding the action of the defendant-appellee, Board of Education of Century Community School District No. 100 of Pulaski, Alexander, Massac and Johnson Counties, Illinois, hereafter referred to as the Board, dismissing him from his teaching appointment.

During the school year 1970-71 and for two or more years immediately preceding this year the appellant was superintendent of schools for Century Community Unit School District No. 100. On March 15, 1971, after a hearing, the Board relieved the appellant of his administrative duties effective June 30, 1971 and reassigned him as a teacher for the 1971-72 school year.

On August 21, 1971, prior to the assumption of classroom duties, the Board informed the appellant that he would be dismissed from employment as a teacher on November 2, 1971 and that pending a hearing he was suspended effective August 21, 1971. This decision was reached by the Board in a special meeting held on August 21. Following this notification the appellant requested and on September 2 received a bill of particulars. A hearing was held on October 2, 1971 following which the Board adopted a resolution dismissing the appellant effective November 2, 1971 and continuing his suspension until that date.

A complaint for administrative review was filed in the Circuit Court of Pulaski County, and on April 11, 1972 the court entered an order affirming the decision of the Board. Notice of appeal to this court was filed on April 18, 1972.

Appellant does not question the right of the Board to relieve him of his position as Superintendent and reassign him to a teaching position; and the Board does not question the status of the appellant as an employee having tenure within the terms of section 24-11 of the Teacher Tenure Law. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 122, sec. 24-11.

Though the Board's letter of dismissal of August 21, 1971 does not state specifically which of the causes listed in section 10-22.4 of the Teacher Tenure Law is the basis for its action, the bill of particulars supplied to the appellant on September 2 indicates that it is based on that portion of the above section which states that the Board has power to dismiss: "* * * whenever, in its opinion, the interests of the schools require it, * * *."

• 1 Section 24-12 of the Teacher Tenure Law contains an important condition on the right of a board to dismiss. It provides that:

"Before service of notice of charges on account of causes that are considered remedial, the teacher shall be given reasonable warning in writing, stating specifically the causes which, if not removed, may result in charges. The decision of the board as to the existence of reasons or causes for dismissal or removal is final unless reviewed as provided in Section 24-16 of this Act."

Section 24-16 of the Teacher Tenure Law makes applicable the provisions of the Administrative Review Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 110, sec. 264 et seq.) to decisions of school boards.

• 2 When this court reviews any decision of a circuit court which has handed down an opinion under the Administrative Review Act it is confronted with two questions: (1) Does the record show that the steps and procedures required by law were taken, and (2) If so, is or is not the decision of the board or administrative agency against the manifest weight of the evidence? If, upon examination of the record regarding the first question, the court concludes that there were failures or omissions which substantially affect the rights of the party against whom the proceedings are taken, it has no choice but to reverse.

• 3 We consider the right of a teacher to be informed about causes that are remediable and to have an opportunity to correct such causes as extremely important and one that goes to the heart of the tenure system. We do not believe that a record which fails to show that the board took proper cognizance of this provision is sufficient. In Hauswald v. Board of Education, 20 Ill. App.2d 49, 155 N.E.2d 319, the court said:

"The Tenure Law would have no value as a protection to teachers if Boards were free to dismiss teachers for `cause' deemed by them to be irremediable and the ...

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