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Kennedy v. Com. Unit Sch. Dist. No. 7

NOVEMBER 14, 1974.

E.V. KENNEDY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

COMMUNITY UNIT SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 7, CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Champaign County; the Hon. ROGER H. LITTLE, Judge, presiding.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE TRAPP DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Plaintiff appeals the judgment entered upon dismissal of his second amended complaint seeking mandamus, actual damages in the sum of $25,992, and punitive damages in the sum of $90,000. He alleged wrongful and illegal dismissal as a principal and teacher.

Plaintiff had been employed as a tenured teacher and principal of Pesotum Elementary School. He attained the age of 65 years on December 14, 1969. On March 26, 1970, defendants advised plaintiff by letter:

"Reference Section 24-11 of the `School Code of Illinois' that contractual service shall cease at the end of the school term following the 65th birthday.

The Board of Education has decided not to offer you a contract of employment for next school year."

It is said that the failure to offer a contract violates the provisions of the School Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 122, pars. 24-11, 24-12), the Age Discrimination Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967, ch. 48, par. 881 et seq.), and plaintiff's rights of due process and equal protection under the federal constitution.

Section 24-11 of the School Code at issue provides in its fourth paragraph:

"Contractual continued service shall cease at the end of the school term following the 65th birthday of any teacher, and any subsequent employment of such a teacher shall be on an annual basis." (Emphasis supplied.)

Plaintiff contends that the term of contractual continued service did not terminate until the end of the school year (1970), following his 65th birthday in December, 1969; that he was a tenured teacher at the time of the notice in March, 1970, so that he was entitled to written notice stating specific charges as enumerated in section 10-22 of the School Code, a bill of particulars and a hearing as provided in section 24-12 of such Code.

• 1, 2 Section 24-11 clearly states that the extension of employment contracts for the school terms commencing subsequent to a teacher's 65th birthday is not required by virtue of the teacher's status of contractual continued service. Thus, plaintiff argues that he is entitled to a hearing on specific charges before defendant can "terminate" a non-existent right to contractual continued service. Plaintiff's conclusion appears to be contrary to the plain language of section 24-11 in that it leaves meaningless the provision "and any subsequent employment of such teacher shall be on an annual basis." Appellate courts cannot restrict nor enlarge the plain meaning of an unambiguous statute (Bovinette v. City of Mascoutah, 55 Ill.2d 129, 133, 302 N.E.2d 313), and:

"`[I]t is a cardinal rule in construing statutes that they are to be construed so as to give effect to each word, clause and sentence, so that no word, clause or sentence shall be considered superfluous or void, [citations] and a statute should be so construed, if possible, as to give to each word and sentence its ordinary and accepted meaning.'" Vaught v. Industrial Commission, 52 Ill.2d 158, 165, 287 N.E.2d 701.

Paragraph 3 of section 24-11 includes:

"[A]ny teacher employed on a full-time basis, not later than January 1 of the school term, shall receive written notice from the employing board at least 60 days before the end of any school term whether or not he will be re-employed for the following school term."

We hold that where, as here, a teacher is given such notice during the school term during which he reaches age 65, his employment is properly terminated at the end of that school term, without notice of specific charges or a hearing that ...


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