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LAKE PARK ED. ASS'N v. BD. OF ED. OF LAKE PARK

March 31, 1981

LAKE PARK EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, LARRY STINSON, BRUCE ROBERTS, JUDITH CAPPETTO, MICHAEL KISER, JOHN POMATTO, ATTILA WENINGER AND LAURENCE DUNN, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF ALL THOSE SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF LAKE PARK HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 108, DU PAGE COUNTY, ILLINOIS; RAYMOND FOOTE, SAMUEL VITALE, CONSTANCE HUNSBERGER, BERNARD SWIONTEK, JR., RICHARD SHIPMAN, JOSEPH MORAN AND CHARLES HODGIN, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS MEMBERS OF THE AFORESAID BOARD OF EDUCATION; AND CARL FORRESTER, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS SUPERINTENDENT OF LAKE PARK HIGH SCHOOL, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Will, District Judge.

FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW, AND OPINION

The Court, having reviewed the parties' cross motions for summary judgment, their respective statements of facts, and their various briefs in support of and in opposition to the cross summary judgment motions, makes the following narrative findings of fact and conclusions of law and enters its opinion.

I. THE FACTS

The plaintiff, Lake Park Education Association (Association), was organized on March 25, 1975 with membership open to all certificated members of the faculty of Lake Park High School District No. 108 (District). It had previously existed between 1955 (when the District was organized) and some time in the 1960's when it was dissolved. It is affiliated with the Illinois Education Association (IEA) and the National Education Association (NEA).

The defendants are the Board of Education (Board) of Lake Park High School District No. 108, DuPage County, Illinois, and the individual members thereof during the period here involved. The defendant, Carl Forrester (Superintendent), was the Superintendent of the District from its formation in 1955 through the period here involved.

On March 26, 1975, a letter was mailed by the Association to the Superintendent advising him that the Association had been re-established. His reaction upon its receipt was that he "was disappointed," that "if the Union's existence meant that we had to operate differently, I didn't want any part of it and therefore, I didn't want it to occur."

Two days later, on March 27, 1975, the Superintendent convened a special meeting of the faculty Executive Council comprised of members of the administrative staff and so-called "ranking members" of the faculty who had some supervisory and administrative as well as teaching responsibilities and received additional compensation therefor. He stated to the group that he was "not pleased" that the Association had been re-established, that he considered it as a "personal attack" on him and that, if the Association was successful and a large number of the faculty joined it, "there probably would be no more differential staffing," since, in his opinion, a union and differential staffing were incompatible. The latter was a reference to a staffing structure established in 1968 under which teachers were designated and compensated at one of five levels on the basis of evaluations of their performance and the responsibilities assigned to them, irrespective of their teaching experience and educational degrees. The additional compensation ranged from $2,500 to $5,000 per annum. All of the teachers who were members of the Executive Council and present at the meeting received additional compensation and the abolishing of differentiated staffing might have resulted in their losing their additional compensation.

On April 10, 1975, consistent with past practices as to the use of school facilities by teacher groups and other public and private groups, the Association met on school premises and elected its officers. Upon hearing of the meeting, the Superintendent denied the Association the future use of any school facilities on any basis. Subsequently, the Board authorized such usage by the Association on condition that it pay the same charges as a commercial organization rather than be permitted to use the school facilities for meetings without charge as had its predecessor and as community service organizations are permitted to do. This was because the Board determined upon recommendation of the Superintendent that the Association was a "self-interest" group.

On April 10, 1975, the Superintendent convened another special Executive Council meeting at which he announced that he was ending differentiated staffing and dissolving the Faculty Senate because they were incompatible with union activities. At that meeting, Bruce Roberts, a member of the Executive Council and a plaintiff herein, was accused by Assistant Superintendent Eugene Swierczewski (Assistant Superintendent) of being "a recruiter for the union."

On May 19, 1975, the Board met and Larry Stinson, the Association's president, appeared, made a general statement of the objectives of the Association and requested the use of school facilities for regular meetings of the Association without charge, as well as use of school duplicating facilities on a reimbursement basis as was customary with teachers and other organizations. The President of the Board, defendant Raymond Foote, first inquired if the names of the members of the Association were available but abandoned the question when asked the purpose of his inquiry. Thereafter, on June 4, 1975, the Board designated the Association as a "self-interest" group which would be charged commercial rates for use of school facilities for meetings but did not respond to the request as to the use of duplicating facilities on a reimbursement basis.

On June 9, both the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent addressed a general faculty meeting. The Superintendent stated that the Association was "anathema" and that the entire differentiated staffing system had been abolished because, in his words, "the staff had chosen a union to replace it." The Assistant Superintendent announced that all teachers would have their teaching loads increased, and that, in his opinion the school had "21 too many teachers." At the time, the projections were that more teachers would be needed because of area population increases, the Board had surplus funds and the North Central Accreditation Association's study indicated that additional teachers were needed and additional teachers were subsequently employed.

On June 10, 1975, the Superintendent convened a meeting with certain faculty members whom he was considering as replacements for those who had received additional responsibility and compensation under the abolished differentiated staffing system. A new designation of "supervisor" was created although the individuals were to perform the same functions as the designated teachers under differentiated staffing. At that meeting, the Superintendent stated in effect that one could not be a supervisor and a member of the Association. Those present were given five days in which to choose. Not invited to the meeting nor given the opportunity to continue as a supervisor was Bruce Roberts, the then ranking member of the English Department who had 14 years on the faculty and an "excellent" appraisal but who had been accused by the Assistant Superintendent at the April 10 meeting of being a union recruiter.

During the same period, the Superintendent had private conversations with a number of faculty members. One of those, Thor Connally, resigned from the Association, the IEA and the NEA on May 16, 1975, after his conference with the Superintendent and sent a copy of his letters of resignation to the Superintendent. He subsequently was offered and accepted a new position designated as "coordinator," a position subordinate to the new position of "supervisor." Another member, Susan D. Madorin, was offered and accepted a position of supervisor and terminated her membership in the Association.

Plaintiff, Judith Cappetto, had a conversation about the situation with Ms. Madorin, who suggested that she talk privately with the Superintendent. Ms. Cappetto did not do so, but on June 15, 1975, the last day the Superintendent had given faculty members on which to choose, she was contacted by the Assistant Superintendent who asked if she had understood the Superintendent's agreement or invitation. She responded that, if she understood it correctly, she had to give up her membership in the Association in order to ...


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