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Haight v. Board of Education

JUNE 5, 1975.

BILLIE JEAN HAIGHT, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

BOARD OF EDUCATION OF COMMUNITY UNIT SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 205, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Knox County; the Hon. WILLIAM K. RICHARDSON, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE STENGEL DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Plaintiff-appellant Billie Jean Haight appeals from a judgment of the circuit court which dismissed her petition for writ of mandamus and complaint for declaratory judgment against the defendant-appellee Board of Education of Community Unit School District No. 205, Knox and Warren Counties. Plaintiff, a non-tenured teacher, first employed for the 1971-72 school year, sought to compel the Board to reemploy her as a full-time English teacher for the 1972-73 year. On March 29, 1972, she received timely notice from the superintendent of schools that her contract for the 1972-73 school year would not be renewed.

At a meeting of the Board on March 27, 1972, action to terminate plaintiff's employment was taken. During that meeting, the Board went into executive session "to discuss personnel," and during the executive session decided to dismiss several teachers, including plaintiff. The minutes stated that the Board then returned to open session and by roll call vote authorized "the Superintendent of Schools, if this action becomes necessary, to send a notice of dismissal to one first year teacher and a notice of dismissal stating the specific reason therefore to one second year teacher * * *." At its next meeting on April 10, 1972, the Board approved the minutes of the March 27 meeting.

After this action was filed, the Board held a special meeting on July 27, 1973, and unanimously approved an amendment to conform the minutes to the action taken by the Board on March 27, 1972. The minutes as amended state:

"In accordance with Section 24-11 of the Illinois School Code (Illinois Revised Statutes, 1971), it was moved * * * that the Board of Education authorize the Superintendent of Schools, if this action becomes necessary because either of the teachers hereafter named fail to resign prior to sixty days before the end of the school term, to send a notice of dismissal to Billie Jean Haight, who is a first year teacher in our school district * * *."

• 1 The law of Illinois is undisputed that a school board may amend its minutes at any time to conform to what in fact occurred at a meeting. Jewell v. Board of Education, 19 Ill. App.3d 1091, 312 N.E.2d 659 (5th Dist. 1974); Phenicie v. Board of Education, 326 Ill. 73, 157 N.E. 34 (1927).

Plaintiff contends that some of the testimony shows that the amendment does not reflect the actual events that occurred at the Board meeting. The trial judge heard the testimony of all the witnesses, including six members of the Board who attended the March 27 meeting and who voted approval of the amendment to the minutes on July 27, 1973, and he made an express finding that he believed the testimony that the amended minutes "show what actually occurred at that meeting." Although there was some conflict between the various witnesses, the credibility of witnesses is for the trial court to determine, and the findings of the trial judge will not be disturbed unless they are manifestly against the weight of the evidence. (Jewell v. Board of Education.) We must reject plaintiff's contention and hold that the minutes as amended are the appropriate official record of the March 27, 1972, meeting.

• 2, 3 The "Open Meeting Law" (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 102, par. 42) provides that a school board may hold a closed session to consider information regarding dismissal of an employee, "* * * but no final action may be taken at a closed session." Plaintiff contends this section requires "final action" be taken by the Board at a public meeting and that the motion approved by the Board did not constitute "final action," but merely authorized the superintendent to send a notice of dismissal. A similar argument was considered in Jewell v. Board of Education, and we agree with the holding in that case. The decision to send a notice of dismissal is the decision to dismiss in the case of a non-tenured teacher, and "final action" is the public roll-call vote. The Board did not unlawfully delegate to the superintendent its authority to dismiss a teacher. After the Board action, a member of the administrative staff may properly communicate the Board's dismissal action to a teacher. Bessler v. Board of Education, 11 Ill. App.3d 210, 296 N.E.2d 89 (3rd Dist. 1973).

Plaintiff's other contentions concerning alleged defects in Board procedure were corrected by the amendment to the minutes, and need not be considered.

Judgment affirmed.

ALLOY, J., concurs.

Mr. JUSTICE BARRY, dissenting:

At the hearing on plaintiff's petition, commencing August 6, 1973, plaintiff's exhibit 6 was admitted to evidence being the original minutes of defendant's open meeting of March 27, 1972, at which plaintiff was purportedly discharged. In respect to roll call # 13, relating to the public vote on the public motion purporting to constitute the final action on the question of plaintiff's dismissal, these minutes of the open meeting recite only as follows:

"In accordance with Section 24-11 of the Illinois School Code (Illinois Revised Statutes, 1971) it was moved by Member Davis and seconded by Member Rozynek that the Board of Education authorize the Superintendent of Schools, if this action becomes necessary, to send a notice of dismissal to one first year teacher and a notice of dismissal stating the specific reason therefor to one second year teacher in our district with previous teaching experience outside the ...


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