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Allen v. Thornblad

OPINION FILED OCTOBER 14, 1976.

DELLA M. ALLEN ET AL., PLAINTIFFS AND CROSS-DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES,

v.

CARL E. THORNBLAD, DEFENDANT AND CROSS-PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County; the Hon. SIMON L. FRIEDMAN, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE SIMKINS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This is a declaratory judgment action which the members of the Board of Education of School District 186 of Springfield brought seeking a finding that defendant Thornblad was not a tenured teacher with the district. Defendant filed an answer and a counterpetition for declaratory judgment that he did have tenure. The trial court thoroughly and articulately set forth in opinion form the facts of the case and the law it applied, and it found for the Board. We will first summarize the facts and then identify and discuss the issues defendant now raises on appeal.

The Board employed Dr. Thornblad for the school year of 1971-72. It then contracted to employ him from July 1, 1972, until June 30, 1973. Defendant was a certificated employee with the title of "Assistant Superintendent, Business and Administrative Services." At a meeting on March 5, 1973, which defendant attended, the Board passed the following resolution:

"Be it resolved that the position of Assistant Superintendent for Business Services be discontinued July 1, 1973, and that such position be removed from the Administration Table of Organization for the Springfield Public Schools."

The resolution did not contain the word "Administrative" in the job title when it was recorded in the minutes. The resolution had not been on the agenda.

At a meeting on March 19, 1973, the administrative staff presented this recommendation:

"Recommend the notification of termination of employment as the result of abolishment of position as required under School Code of Illinois, be provided the following certificated personnel: A. Thornblad, Dr. Carl E., Assistant Superintendent for Administrative and Business Services, effective June 30, 1973."

The parties disagree as to whether the Board formally adopted the March 19 resolution, but on March 20, 1973, the Board Secretary sent a registered letter to defendant's home to notify him of the job termination. She also sent letters to other offices within the school system. Defendant, however, was out of town and had notified his secretary not to receipt for any registered mail.

Throughout the period of time material to this cause, the school district was without a superintendent. One had recently left the services of the Board, and they had not yet appointed another. The evidence shows, however, that a Dr. Matthews had assumed the responsibilities of that position although he had not been officially designated as the superintendent.

Defendant's first argument on appeal is that the action by the Board purporting to terminate his employment was a nullity because the district did not have a chief administrative officer at the time. In support of his contention, defendant cites the following section of the "Regulations and Agreements 1972-73, Springfield School District Number 186, Springfield Education Association":

"The Board of Education will select a Chief Administrator who shall be the head of the school system * * *." Art. I, § 1-1B.

"The Board of Education will employ, promote, transfer, suspend, or dismiss personnel after consultation with and upon recommendation of the Chief Administrator, 1-1G." Art. I, § 1-1G. (Emphasis added.)

"After consultation with and considering the recommendations of the Superintendent of Schools, [it shall be the duty of the Board] to pass upon:

(1) The employment or discussal [sic] of individual teachers * * * and other personnel whose compensation is paid from school funds." ...


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