APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ARTHUR
L. DUNNE, Judge, presiding.
MISS PRESIDING JUSTICE MCGILLICUDDY DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
The plaintiffs, Chicago Principals Association, Mary A. Saxton, Nicholas P. Kushta, Daniel W. Caldwell, Edmund J. Kubik, Clara M. Spaulding and Richard C. Portee, filed a complaint for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief against the Chicago Board of Education and the general superintendent of the board of education, seeking a rescission of the transfers of the individual plaintiffs to lower administrative grade levels and an award of damages for loss of salary. On March 31, 1977, the trial court granted the defendants' motion to strike the complaint and dismiss the action. The plaintiffs' motion to vacate this order was denied on October 17, 1977. It is from these two orders that the plaintiffs have appealed.
On February 27, 1974, a memorandum of understanding was entered into between the board of education of the city of Chicago and the Chicago Principals Association which established procedures for consideration of professional matters and grievances. This memorandum was effective from September 1, 1973, to December 31, 1974. On February 25, 1976, the parties executed a similar memorandum for the period of January 1, 1975, to December 31, 1976.
Both memoranda contained the following provision:
"7-4. Administrative transfers may be made only to a position of equal or higher category, unless specific reasons are given to the principal in writing. Time for examination of reasons and a conference with the General Superintendent, or his designee, shall be provided before any such transfer is effected. Nothing herein shall be construed to alter or affect in any way present policy and practice applicable to the EI and/or E2 evaluation procedure."
Pursuant to a report of the board of education dated January 8, 1975, the individual plaintiffs were transferred from their positions as high school principals to positions as elementary school principals. These transfers were effective January 13, 1975, and resulted in lower administrative grade levels and reductions in salary. The principals were not given specific reasons in writing prior to their transfers, nor were they afforded a conference to discuss said transfers.
Count I of the plaintiffs' complaint alleged that the board of education breached section 7-4 of the memorandum of understanding. In count II the plaintiffs alleged that they had a vested right in their position as high school principals which could not arbitrarily be taken away without the opportunity for a hearing satisfying minimum due process requirements.
The following issues are presented for consideration on appeal:
1. Whether the memorandum of understanding was an enforceable contract in effect at the time of the transfers.
2. Whether section 7-4 of the memorandum of understanding unlawfully restricts the board's power to transfer principals.
3. Whether the plaintiffs possess a property right in their positions and administrative grades.
4. Whether the trial court properly dismissed the complaint.
The board contends that the memorandum of understanding was not an enforceable contract in effect at the time of the transfers. The board further denies the existence of a contract at all, and supports this conclusion by stating that the memorandum is ...