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Burns v. Bd. of Educ. of Fairfield Sch. Dist.

OPINION FILED JANUARY 14, 1977.

SUSAN BURNS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF FAIRFIELD SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 112 OF WAYNE COUNTY, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Wayne County; the Hon. ALVIN L. WILLIAMS, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE GEORGE J. MORAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied May 10, 1977.

This is an appeal from an order of the circuit court of Wayne County granting respondent school board's motion to dismiss petitioner's amended petition for writ of mandamus. Petitioner sought to compel respondent to reassign her as a teacher in the Fairfield School District No. 112 of Wayne County, Illinois.

Appellant contends that the reasons given for the dismissal of a second year probationary teacher must be truthful and that this issue can be reviewed in a mandamus proceeding.

Section 24-11 of the School Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 122, par. 24-11) reads in part as follows:

"* * * Any teacher who has been employed in any district as a full-time teacher for a probationary period of 2 consecutive school terms shall enter upon contractual continued service unless given written notice of dismissal stating the specific reason therefor, by registered mail by the employing board at least 60 days before the end of such period."

Petitioner argues that these "specific reasons" for dismissal must have a basis in fact.

The petitioner, Susan Burns, is a duly qualified teacher certified in the State of Illinois. She was employed as a teacher for two consecutive years by the respondent Board of Education. On March 27, 1974, petitioner received notice of dismissal from the Board of Education. This notice informed the petitioner that her employment was being terminated, stating the following reasons:

"(1) On April 25, 1973 you refused a request to transfer to another position for which you are qualified.

(2) On October 30, 1973, you stated that you would not perform any duties `not specifically spelled out' in detail in your contract and that no provisions could be added to future contracts.

(3) On October 31, 1973 you left your room, with children present, unattended and was [sic] later found in the teachers lounge. Observing the secretary of the school approaching the lounge, you closed the door, remaining inside and leaving your room unattended for some extended period of time.

(4) On March 25, 1974 you declined a request to transfer to a position for which you are qualified."

Subsequently, petitioner filed a petition for writ of mandamus in the circuit court of Wayne County, alleging that the reasons given were arbitrary, capricious, and without any basis in fact. The respondent's motion to dismiss the petition was granted. The petitioner then filed an amended petition in which she alleged that the reasons given for her dismissal were arbitrary, capricious and without any basis in fact, and made allegations of fact to refute the reasons given by respondent. Respondent filed a motion to dismiss the amended petition which motion was granted in an order by the circuit court. Petitioner appeals from that order.

• 1 Consideration of the question of whether the reasons given to dismiss a second year probationary teacher must be truthful leads us in the instant case to the corollary issue of whether or not the truthfulness of these reasons can be tested in a mandamus proceeding. Since these issues involve construction of section ...


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