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Maiter v. Chicago Bd. of Education

OPINION FILED OCTOBER 10, 1979.

IRIS M. MAITER ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES AND APPELLANTS,

v.

THE CHICAGO BOARD OF EDUCATION ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES. — (DISTRICT #21 PARENT EDUCATION COUNCIL ET AL., INTERVENORS-APPELLANTS AND APPELLEES; MIDWEST COMMUNITY COUNCIL ET AL., INTERVENORS-APPELLEES.)



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ARTHUR L. DUNNE, Judge, presiding.

MISS JUSTICE MCGILLICUDDY DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This is an appeal from an order entered in the Circuit Court of Cook County which clarified the procedures to be used by the board of education in the appointment of principals in the Chicago public school system.

The plaintiffs, principals in the school system and individuals on the 1970 and 1974 eligibility lists for principal, filed a complaint for declaratory judgment on June 12, 1975. The complaint alleged that the rules and procedures employed by the board of education under which it may obtain the nomination of a person for principal by a local nominating committee were in violation of the School Code.

The School Code provides that appointments and promotions of teachers, principals and other educational employees in cities of over 500,000 inhabitants shall be made for merit only. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 122, par. 34-84.) Subsequent to the enactment of this provision in 1917 (the Otis Law), the board of education appointed persons to the position of principal from the principals' eligibility list in rank order. Rank order was determined by the score achieved on an examination administered by the board of examiners. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 122, par. 34-83.) This method of appointment continued to 1970.

On March 25, 1970, the board of education adopted procedures establishing "nominating committees of local school councils" in order to involve local communities in the selection of school principals. Pursuant to these procedures, if there were five vacancies for principals, the names of the first five candidates in rank order on the eligibility list were presented to the nominating committees for consideration. The committees rated the candidates in order of preference, and the board attempted to honor the requests. On October 14, 1970, the board determined that rank on the eligibility list should not be considered either in presenting candidates to the nominating committees or in the assignment of principals.

The relief sought by the plaintiffs was a declaration that the rules and procedures establishing nominating committees of local school councils were in violation of the School Code, the fourteenth amendment to the United States Constitution, and section 2 of article I of the Illinois Constitution. In addition, the plaintiffs asked the court to enter an order directing the board to make all appointments to the position of principal in rank order from the eligibility lists prepared by the board of examiners.

On September 28, 1976, the trial court entered an order granting leave to members of various community organizations and school parents councils to intervene in this suit. In their answer to the complaint, the intervenors adopted the responses that the board set forth in its answer.

The plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment, and the defendants and intervenors responded with their answers and objections. Subsequent to several hearings on the motion, the trial court entered its judgment order on December 20, 1976. In its order the trial court found that the Otis Law was passed in 1917 in order to do away with favoritism, partisanship and cronyism in the selection of principals. It also found that rank order appointment of principals was abhorrent because it precluded community input and that the procedures establishing community nominating committees set forth no ascertainable standards to be employed in the selection of nominees by the committees. The trial court ordered:

"1. That appointment of a person to the position of principal is to be made on the basis of merit, as required by Ill. Rev. Stat., Ch. 122, § 34-84.

2. That rank order on the principals' eligibility examination need not be used by the Board as the sole criteria of merit in the appointment of principals to individual schools, provided however, that until a uniform system of community input is established appointments to principals shall be in rank order commencing with appointments in rank order from the oldest existing principal list (1970)."

The intervenors appealed from that portion of the order which required the board to appoint principals in rank order until such time as the board established a uniform system of community input. Subsequently, the intervenors filed a motion to dismiss their appeal because of mootness, and we granted the motion.

The plaintiffs appealed from the portion of the order which provided that rank order on the examination need not be the sole criteria of merit in the appointment of principals to individual schools. In addition, the plaintiffs appealed from the order of September 28, 1976, permitting the members of community organizations and school parents councils to intervene in this action.

Effective October 1, 1977, section 34-8.2 was added to the School Code for cities of over 500,000 inhabitants. This provision validates the use of nominating committees in the selection of principals. The section provides as follows:

"A. Before the general superintendent shall recommend or the board shall vote on the appointment of a principal, the general superintendent and board may obtain the nomination of a person or persons to fill the ...


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