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Board of Trustees v. Krizek

OPINION FILED MARCH 10, 1983.

BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF COMMUNITY DISTRICT NUMBER 513, PLAINTIFF AND COUNTERDEFENDANT-APPELLEE,

v.

DALE KRIZEK ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS. — (DALE KRIZEK, COUNTERPLAINTIFF-APPELLANT.)



Appeal from the Circuit Court of La Salle County; the Hon. Alexander T. Bower, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE SCOTT DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This litigation concerns the termination from employment of Dale Krizek, a non-tenured community college teacher, by her employer, the Board of Trustees of Community College District No. 513 (the Board). Following a hearing by the circuit court of La Salle County, it was determined that the termination did not breach the employment contract between Krizek and the Board, nor did the termination fail to comply with the statute creating certain rights of tenure for community college teachers. Krizek has appealed, urging that the determinations of the circuit court were erroneous.

We are presented with the following factual background: Krizek began employment with the Board in January 1978 as an art teacher. She was employed continuously from that time until she received her notice of termination dated August 20, 1980, to be effective December 19, 1980. Krizek's most recent professional contract with the Board was executed on May 16, 1979, and provided for employment during the academic year commencing on August 21, 1979, and ending on May 16, 1980; however, teachers in District 513 were represented by the American Federation of Teachers Local 1810, and terms of a collective bargaining agreement entered into on August 20, 1980, were applicable to employment contracts for the 1980-1981 academic year.

That collective bargaining agreement provided, in pertinent part, that

"It shall be the responsibility of the President and the Dean of Instruction in consultation with the Division Chairman to review annually the status of each teacher who does not have tenure, and make recommendations to the Board regarding dismissal or granting of tenure for each teacher whose status calls for a decision.

Notice shall be given in writing (and transmitted by Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested) to the teachers and to the Board, of intention not to recommend reappointment. Starting during the 1973-74 academic year, such notices shall be given not later than March 1 of any of the probationary years of service. For the 1972-73 academic year, the tenure provisions of the 1971-72 contract shall prevail. Tenure appointments are initiated by the Division Chairman in consultation with the Dean of Instruction and the President. The President recommends candidates for tenure to the Board, and the Board action is final.

Teachers presently employed by the College may continue to earn tenure in accordance with this Article, however, all dates and time lines for modification of reduction in force or non-renewal of contract shall be in accordance with the Community College Tenure Act. This entire Article of the contract will be deleted on January 1, 1983."

Krizek urges that the notice provisions of this collective bargaining agreement were not complied with, and therefore the Board's action to terminate her employment was ineffectual.

During the course of the 1979-1980 academic year, legislation codifying the tenure rights of community college teachers became effective. On November 11, 1979, the General Assembly enacted the Public Community College Act. This act became effective on January 1, 1980. The Act requires that

"Every Board shall provide by rule or contract for a procedure to evaluate the performance and qualifications of non-tenure faculty members. If the implementation of such procedure results in a decision to dismiss a non-tenure faculty member for the ensuing school year or term, the Board shall give notice thereof to the faculty member not later than 60 days before the end of the school year or term. The specific reasons for the dismissal shall be confidential but shall be issued to the teacher upon request. If the Board fails to give such notice, within the time period, the faculty member shall be deemed reemployed for the ensuing school year. If the Board fails to give such notice within the time provided during the third year, or during the fourth year in the case of a one year extension, the faculty member shall enter upon tenure during the ensuing school year or term." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 122, par. 103B-3.)

In the alternative, Krizek urges that even if the notice provisions of the collective bargaining agreement are not applicable, then the Board's action to terminate her was still ineffectual as the evaluation procedures required by the Public Community College Act were not followed.

Subsequent to her termination, Krizek sought to submit to arbitration her grievance against the Board. The Board filed the present action in the circuit court naming Krizek and the American Federation of Teachers, Local 1810, as defendants and seeking a determination by declaratory judgment that the grievance was not subject to arbitration. Krizek filed a countercomplaint for declaratory judgment and for money damages. Both Krizek and the Board sought a judgment on the pleadings, and the Board moved for summary judgment. It was in this posture that the matter was submitted to the circuit court, which made the determinations hereinbefore reported and entered a summary judgment for the Board.

Krizek's first contention is that the Board failed to give notice of termination prior to March 1, 1980, and therefore the notice given was unavailing. Although the collective bargaining agreement for the 1979-1980 academic year is omitted from the record, the pleadings establish that an identical notice provision existed in the 1979-1980 document, except for the following language which was added in 1980-1981:

"Teachers presently employed by the College may continue to earn tenure in accordance with this Article, however, all dates and time lines for modification of reduction in force or non-renewal of contract shall be in accordance with the Community College Tenure Act. ...


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