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Bd. of Education v. Schmidt





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Will County; the Hon. THOMAS W. VINSON, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied November 2, 1978.

This is an appeal by Sandra Schmidt, a teacher employed by the plaintiff board of education and the union to which she belongs (hereinafter referred to as the defendants) from an order of the circuit court of Will County which denied defendants' motion for reconsideration of the court's final order permanently staying arbitration of the grievance of the defendant Schmidt, and declaring that the collective bargaining agreement insofar as it may attempt to allow arbitration of the issue presented in said grievance is invalid.

The collective bargaining agreement entered into between the plaintiff board and the defendant teachers' union contained the following provisions in article X, section H, subsection 6:

"Salary adjustments for increased training and or degrees are to be made whenever they are submitted and approved. Proof of such shall be filed by the employee with the Assistant Superintendent in Charge of Personnel."

The defendant teacher Schmidt completed certain courses and submitted the required proof thereof. The plaintiff Board granted Schmidt the salary increase commencing from the time the plaintiff Board accepted and approved her claim. The defendant Schmidt represented by the defendant union filed a grievance in which it was claimed that the plaintiff Board violated the collective bargaining agreement by failing to give her a salary increase retroactive to the beginning of the school year. The plaintiff Board subsequently denied the grievance and Schmidt and the teachers' union submitted the case for arbitration pursuant to contract procedures providing for arbitration. The plaintiff Board sued to prevent arbitration and the trial court ruled that the "non delegable powers" doctrine was applicable to bar arbitration because the plaintiff Board was required by law to set salaries and that this duty would not be delegated to another. This appeal ensued in which a number of issues are raised, however, we first direct our attention to an assertion of the plaintiff Board raised in the trial court and in this appeal to the effect that the board of education has no authority to pay a teacher for qualifications which she does not possess and hence an arbitrator cannot compel a school board to take such an action.

In the instant case the defendant Schmidt wants to be paid from July 1, 1976, for course work submitted March 29, 1977, and again on June 27, 1977. Should the plaintiff Board make the salary increase retroactive then it is elementary that the defendant Schmidt would be receiving compensation for qualifications (course work) which she did not possess. Can a school board pay school teachers a salary for course work which they have not completed? We fail to find any authority either express or implied which would permit a school board to make such salary payments.

The authority of a school board to fix salaries and to pay teachers is limited by our State Constitution and School Code. Ill. Const. 1970, art. VIII, § 1(b), provides:

"The State, units of local government and school districts shall incur obligations for payment or make payments from public funds only as authorized by law or ordinance."

Section 24-8 of the School Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 122, par. 24-8) pertains to the fixing of minimum salaries for school teachers and the last paragraph of this statutory provision states:

"For purposes of this Section, a teacher who submits a certificate of completion to the school office prior to the first day of the school term shall be considered to have the degree stated in such certificate."

• 1 As we interpret the above statutory language, it is the legislative intent that a teacher must actually complete the course work and possess the qualifications as a prerequisite to qualifying for and receiving from a school board the minimum salary commensurate with the qualifications. Certainly this section cannot be construed as authorizing a school board to elevate a teacher to a higher salaried classification in anticipation that the teacher will acquire higher qualifications by completing additional course work at some later date.

This court recently issued an opinion which, inter alia, concerned itself as to whether or not the registration of a valid high school certificate related back or became retroactive so as to prevent the dismissal of a teacher. (See Hagopian v. Board of Education (1978), 56 Ill. App.3d 940, 945, 372 N.E.2d 990.) In Hagopian it was stated by this court:

"After proper notice of dismissal has been given as was done in the instant case, does the securing and registration of a valid high school certificate (as was done by Hagopian) prior to the end of the school year serve to relate back or become retroactive so as to prevent the dismissal of a teacher? We believe not. In Brubaker v. Board of Education (1977), 46 Ill. App.3d 588, 360 N.E.2d 1228, the reviewing court held that a teacher's certificate registered after the beginning of a school year cannot relate back ...

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