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Dolnick v. Gen. Superintendent of Schools

OPINION FILED NOVEMBER 9, 1978.

SAMUEL L. DOLNICK ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,

v.

GENERAL SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. RAYMOND K. BERG, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE LINN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendants, the general superintendent of schools of the City of Chicago, certain of his assistants, the Board of Education of the City of Chicago and the Board members individually, appeal from an order of the circuit court of Cook County which found them guilty of contempt and imposed fines for violation of a permanent injunction order entered on July 13, 1976. The order in question restrained defendants from employing any person to serve as or perform the duties of acting principal, if that person does not hold a principal's (supervisory) certificate issued by the Board of Education of the City of Chicago.

We reverse the judgment of the trial court finding defendants guilty of contempt.

The dispositive issue on appeal is whether the defendants' policy of appointing one principal to supervise the operation of more than one school or branch school violates the injunction order.

On January 10, 1975, the head of the Chicago Principals' Association and 12 other individuals filed an action as taxpayers against the general superintendent of schools and the Board of Education and its members individually seeking to enjoin defendants' practice of appointing individuals without supervisory certificates *fn1 to the positions of assistant principal and acting principal in alleged violation of certain provisions of the School Code of Illinois. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 122, pars. 21-1 and 34-8.1.

Section 21-1 in part provides "[n]o one may teach or supervise in the public schools nor receive for teaching or supervising any part of any public school fund, who does not hold a certificate of qualification * * *." With special reference to the position of principal, section 34-8.1 states "[e]ach principal shall hold a valid supervisory or administrative certificate * * *."

The complaint charged that both assistant principals and acting principals supervise attendance centers within the meaning of the School Code. As defined by the pleadings, persons in the position of assistant principal take charge of their respective schools when their principal is absent from the building for any reason. Acting principals are persons serving in the position of principal and performing supervisory duties of principal in schools in which there is a vacancy in the position of principal.

The complaint sought to enjoin defendants from employing anyone to supervise the operation of any school who does not hold a valid supervisory certificate and from paying public school funds to any person acting in a supervisory capacity who does not hold such a certificate.

Following a hearing on the parties' cross motions for summary judgment, the trial court entered an injunction order on July 13, 1976, permanently enjoining defendants "from employing any person and paying any person out of the Public School Fund for serving in the position of Acting Principal, or for performing the services of an Acting Principal, although given a different title, who does not hold a properly issued principal's [supervisory] certificate issued by the Board of Education of the City of Chicago."

The order recited:

"That Acting Principals perform supervisory duties and serve as the supervisory head of a school where a vacancy exists in the position of Principal or where the Principal is absent from the school for a long period of time due to extended illness, leave of absence or like cause (meaning any period in excess of ten (10) school days.) That said Acting Principals are performing the duties of a principal. That Section 34-8.1 of the School Code of Illinois, Ill. Rev. Stat., 1975, Ch. 122, § 34-8.1 provides, in part, `Each principal shall hold a valid supervisory or administrative certificate issued by the Board of Education.' That the Board of Education issues a `Principal's Certificate' which is a supervisory certificate within the meaning of the aforesaid statute.

That Section 21-1 of the School Code of Illinois, Ill. Rev. Stat., 1975, Ch. 122, § 21-1, prohibits anyone from supervising in the public schools or receiving any part of any public school fund who does not hold a certificate of qualification. Under this statute, persons performing supervisory duties must hold a supervisory certificate in order to supervise in the public schools or receive any part of any public school fund, except as hereinafter provided."

With regard to the position of assistant principal the order stated:

"[T]he Board of Education requires Assistant Principals to meet certain educational standards and qualifications before being appointed to the position of Assistant Principal. That the imposition of these requirements as a condition for appointment plus the requirement that the Assistant Principal hold a teacher's certificate, plus the requirement that the Assistant Principal not supervise for a period in excess of ten (10) school days, is enough to satisfy the requirement of Section 21-1 of the School ...


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