APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Clinton County; the Hon.
ARTHUR G. HENKEN, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE EBERSPACHER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Rehearing denied August 4, 1975.
The Wesclin Education Association, a teachers' association, and two of its members, John Rinderer and Anita Wick, brought separate actions against the defendant, the Board of Education of Wesclin Community Unit School District No. 3 of Clinton and St. Clair Counties, in the form of petitions for writs of mandamus to prevent the dismissal of each of its respective members or, alternatively, for declaratory judgments construing the rights of the parties under the "professional negotiations agreement." Upon a motion of the defendant these separate actions were consolidated for the purposes of taking evidence. The circuit court of Clinton County heard the evidence without a jury and rendered judgment for the defendant school board denying all relief requested. In its "Ruling and Judgment" the trial court dismissed the petitions for writs of mandamus, denied relief under the complaints for declaratory judgments and entered judgments in favor of the defendant school board. The plaintiffs have perfected this appeal seeking a reversal of the "Ruling and Judgment" entered by the trial court.
The plaintiffs alleged in their respective petitions and complaints that the dismissal of Rinderer and Wick contravened the "professional negotiation agreement" entered into by the defendant school board and the Wesclin Education Association for the school year 1972-1973. The defendant denied, in its pleading, that the "professional negotiations agreement," was valid and binding.
The "professional negotiations agreement," purported copies of which were attached to plaintiffs' initial pleadings, provided in article VII:
A. The parties agree that the primary objective of teacher evaluation is to improve the quality of instruction. The parties recognize the importance and value of a procedure for assisting and evaluating the progress and success of all teachers.
B. Teachers accept the principle that when performing assigned tasks and tasks normal to their daily work, their performance shall be subject to evaluation.
C. The building principal or designated supervisor of a teacher not assigned to a building shall be responsible for evaluation of all teachers assigned to his building or program.
D. Within 30 days after the beginning of each school term, the building principal or immediate supervisor shall acquaint each teacher under his supervision with teacher evaluation procedures, standards, and instruments and advise each teacher as to who shall observe and evaluate his performance. No evaluation, formal or informal, shall take place until such orientation has been completed.
A teacher newly employed or a teacher reassigned after the beginning of the school term shall be notified by his building principal or immediate supervisor of the evaluation procedures in effect. Such notification shall be within 30 days of the first day on a new assignment.
E. Observation of all teacher duties and responsibilities shall be conducted with the full knowledge of the teacher.
F. Any informal observations which are to be used to evaluate the teacher shall be compiled in writing and discussed with the teacher. A copy of the written compilation shall be given to the teacher.
G. A probationary teacher shall be evaluated at least two (2) times during each probationary year.
H. A tenure teacher should be evaluated at least once each year.
I. The building principal or immediate supervisor shall provide the teacher with definite, positive assistance to improve the quality of teaching and to eliminate difficulties noted in the evaluation.
J. Discharge, demotion, or other involuntary change in the employment status of any teacher shall be for just cause and preceded by:
1. The faithful execution of the evaluation procedure and the honoring of all teachers' rights included in this ...