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Jefferson v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chicago

OPINION FILED JANUARY 18, 1980.

LAWRENCE B. JEFFERSON, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. JOHN LEIFHEIT, Judge, presiding. MR. JUSTICE MEJDA DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied April 24, 1980.

This is an action brought by Lawrence B. Jefferson, principal of the public school of the Cook County Jail and House of Corrections, seeking to recover additional compensation from the Board of Education of the City of Chicago (Board). The trial court granted Jefferson's motion for summary judgment and awarded him $14,835.96 in back salary. On appeal, the Board seeks reversal of the summary judgment, contending that the trial court erroneously interfered with the Board's statutory authority to establish Jefferson's salary. We reverse and remand.

The pertinent facts are not in dispute. Jefferson served as an assistant principal at the Industrial Skill Center from June 29, 1970, through January 30, 1972. Effective January 31, 1972, Jefferson was appointed principal of the public school at the Cook County Jail and House of Corrections, pursuant to Board Report 72-59-3, which was adopted by the Board on January 26, 1972.

Board Report 72-59-3 pertained specifically to Jefferson and provided in part:

"Financial: In accordance with the provisions of Item 7 of Board Report 71-270, the Administrative Compensation Plan, adopted by the Board of Education on March 24, 1971, establish the salary of Mr. Lawrence B. Jefferson at the minimum of his respective administrative grade or grant Mr. Lawrence B. Jefferson an 8% increase in his present salary (six hour a day basis for teachers and including any administrative increment and vacation pay he is currently receiving) not to exceed the maximum of the third quartile, whichever is greater."

Item 7 of Board Report 71-270, the administrative compensation plan, reads in relevant part:

"7. Effective September 1, 1971 when a member of the teaching force including principals and educational directors is promoted to a position of higher grade, his salary shall be increased to the minimum rate of the applicable range or up to 8% based upon the recommendation of the General Superintendent and the approval of the Board of Education, but not above the maximum rate of the third quartile of the higher grade. * * *."

The Board and the Chicago Teacher's Union had entered into an agreement, adopted as Board Resolution 71-185, which provided that the salaries of all teachers would be based on a six-hour day. Teachers in vocational and trade schools work an eight-hour day and the agreement provides that they shall be paid "their basic salary plus 20 percent."

At the time of his promotion, Jefferson's basic salary was $1635.24 for a 20-day school month made up of six-hour days. He also received an additional 20 percent per month of his basic salary because he was assigned to a vocational school, plus $60 per month for his administrative duties as assistant principal.

In arriving at Jefferson's new salary, the Board used his six-hour basic salary without the additional 20 percent and added the $60 administrative increment. The basic monthly salary of $1695.24 was then multiplied by 12 1/2 months, the number of four-week school months worked by a principal. Finally, that total was increased by 8 percent, to arrive at a total annual salary of $22,886. Jefferson claimed that the Board should have included the 20-percent trade school differential in arriving at his new salary, which therefore should have been $27,300.89. The trial court adopted Jefferson's position, finding that the Board should have followed the administrative compensation plan adopted in Board Report 71-270 and included the additional 20 percent in setting Jefferson's salary. Summary judgment was entered in Jefferson's favor, awarding him $14,835.96, the difference in salary resulting from the application of the formula urged by Jefferson. The Board has appealed.

OPINION

On appeal, the Board contends that it properly followed the six-hour-day basic salary formula in Board Report 72-59-3 in setting Jefferson's salary and that the trial court therefore interfered with the Board's statutory power to establish salaries for its employees. Jefferson, on the other hand, maintains that his appointment was purportedly in compliance with Board Report 71-270, which did not refer to the six-hour-day basic salary, and that the Board was bound to follow Board Report 71-270. We conclude that a genuine issue of fact remains as to whether the Board complied with existing policy in setting Jefferson's salary.

The Board's powers are found in article 34 of the Illinois School Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 122, pars. 34-1 through 34-128). Subject to limitations within article 34, the Board is given the power to prescribe "the duties, compensation and terms of employment of its employees" (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 122, par. 34-16) and to "employ teachers and other educational employees and fix their compensation." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 122, par. 34-18.) The power to appoint principals is limited by section 34-8, which provides in pertinent part:

"* * * Appointments, promotions and transfers of teachers, principals, assistant and district superintendents and all other employees in the teaching force shall be made * * * by the board only upon the recommendation of the general superintendent of schools or by a majority vote of the ...


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