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Board of Trustees v. Taylor

OPINION FILED APRIL 25, 1983.

THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT NO. 508, COUNTY OF COOK, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

BRENDA TAYLOR ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Arthur Dunne, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE CAMPBELL DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendants Brenda Taylor and Joyce Smith appeal from a summary judgment granted in favor of plaintiff, the Board of Trustees of Community College District No. 508 (City Colleges of Chicago), declaring that two teachers dismissed by the City Colleges were not tenured faculty members entitled to the benefits of the tenure provisions of the Public Community College Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 122, par. 103B-1 et seq.) (hereinafter referred to as Community College Tenure Act). On appeal, defendants raise the issue whether defendants, by reason of their positions as project training specialists in the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) program at plaintiff's college, may be considered to be faculty members eligible to gain tenure under the Community College Tenure Act. Plaintiff, by cross-appeal, raises in the alternative issue whether employment prior to the effective date of the Community College Tenure Act may be counted toward acquiring tenure under the Act.

Defendants Smith and Taylor were dismissed on January 26, 1981, from their positions as project training specialists in plaintiff's CETA-funded licensed practical nurse training program at the William L. Dawson Skills Center. Both requested that plaintiff hold hearings on their dismissal pursuant to section 103B-4 of the Community College Tenure Act. On March 31, 1981, plaintiff brought this suit to obtain a declaratory judgment that (1) defendants, as CETA project training specialists, were not faculty members within the meaning of the Community College Tenure Act and, therefore, not entitled to protection under its provisions with respect to dismissal of tenured teachers; and, alternatively, (2) defendants did not acquire tenure under the Tenure Act until they had completed three consecutive years of full-time service after the January 1, 1980, effective date of the Act.

Affidavits and exhibits filed by the parties indicate that Joyce Smith had been employed since the fall, 1975, and Brenda Taylor had been employed since the fall, 1977. The licensed practical nurse program in which defendants taught lasts 54 weeks and consists of both classroom and clinical teaching. The students are prepared to take the State board examinations to receive licensed practical nurse certification. The City Colleges also maintain a registered nurse program at four of their colleges. These programs last two years and prepare the students to take the State board examinations for certification as registered nurses.

Plaintiff's affidavits establish that the licensed practical nurse program in which defendants worked is a manpower training program federally funded under title I of the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. § 801 et seq. (1976)) (herein referred to as CETA). The manpower training program does not give academic credit or academic degrees. Trainees in the program must qualify under CETA income level requirements and are evaluated and recruited by the Illinois Job Services Department. CETA trainees are paid the Federal minimum wage for their participation in the training program. Project training specialists, such as defendants, are employed for the duration of the CETA funding grant which runs yearly from October 1 to September 30 of the following year. Both project training specialists and trainees are subject to numerous Federal and State regulations specifying fixed work schedules, prescribed lunch hours and breaks, paid vacations and specified grievance procedures.

Plaintiff argued that the following differences exist between CETA project training specialists and plaintiff's regular faculty. CETA project training specialists are paid through a grant from the Federal government, while plaintiff's academic faculty are paid through tuition, real estate taxes and State aid. Unlike defendants, plaintiff's faculty sign written employment contracts with plaintiff. Defendants are subject to only specific portions of the collective bargaining agreement that covers plaintiff's faculty. Defendants also enjoy different working conditions than plaintiff's regular faculty. Defendants work an October to September school year and receive paid vacations which may be scheduled throughout that year. Plaintiff's faculty works an academic year from August to May and do not receive paid vacations. Defendants are subject to work schedules fixed by Federal regulations and must remain at the training sites except for their prescribed breaks while plaintiff's regular faculty members do not have fixed work schedules and are not required to remain on campus except as their professional duties dictate.

The trial court granted plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. The court found that project training specialists were not faculty members within the meaning of section 103B-1 and, therefore, not eligible to receive tenure. The court stated:

"They have no certainty of continued employment by reason of the federal grant status, and the Court will not extend the very broad tenured provisions of the statute to this category or class of employee. To do so would in the Court's opinion impose intolerable burdens on school district and other public agencies * * *; and * * * the local taxing bodies would be obligated to provide permanent employment when no permanent employment was contemplated."

The record reveals that prior to the enactment of the Act, the granting of tenure was left to the voluntary discretion of the individual community college districts. Ten of the State's 39 community college districts had no provisions for faculty tenure. A collective bargaining agreement governed the awarding of tenure to faculty at plaintiff's colleges and project training specialists were specifically excluded from the tenure provisions of that agreement.

The tenure provisions of the Public Community College Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 122, par. 103B-1 et seq.) became effective on January 1, 1980. The Act established that tenured status may be achieved by faculty members within all of the State's community colleges. The Act provides that faculty members who have been employed by a community college school district for three consecutive school years shall receive tenure unless the board gives the faculty member notice of dismissal 60 days prior to the end of the third school year. The board also may give the faculty member timely notice that the period before acquiring tenure has been extended for an additional year. A tenured faculty member then has a vested contractual right to continued employment as a faculty member subject to termination only upon dismissal for cause or a reduction in size, or termination of, a teaching program (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 122, par. 103B-2). The Act provides that an impartial hearing officer shall decide whether cause for dismissal exists. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 122, par. 103B-4.) If a tenured faculty member is dismissed because of a reduction in staff, that faculty member has as a preferred right for 24 months to reappointment in any position which the faculty member is qualified to fill. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 122, par. 103B-5.) The Act contains the following definition of "faculty member":

"`Faculty Member' means a full time employee of the District regularly engaged in teaching or academic support services, but excluding supervisors, administrators and clerical employees." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 122, par. 103B-1.

On appeal, defendants contend that by the clear and unambiguous language of the Act, the statutory definition of faculty member includes project training specialists. Defendants argue that the trial court misconstrued the Tenure Act by adding exclusions to the definition of faculty member that are not found within the statute or the legislative history of the Act. Defendants assert that the trial court exceeded its authority by substituting its judgment for that of the legislature in determining tenure policy for the State's community colleges.

Plaintiff argues that in view of the numerous undisputed differences between CETA project training specialists and plaintiff's regular faculty, defendants cannot be considered to be "regularly engaged in teaching or academic support services." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 122, par. 103B-1.) Also, plaintiff argues that defendants cannot be considered to be "regularly engaged" because of the inherent irregularity of grant funding. Plaintiff has no assurance that any particular grant application will be approved, and any grant can be declared void for conditions outside of plaintiff's control. Plaintiff further argues that the statute's implementation of tenure, which occurs automatically if notice is not given 60 days prior to the end of the school year, clearly contemplates that a faculty member's employment will be coextensive with the school year. If these provisions are applied to CETA personnel, plaintiff would be required to make personnel decisions in March, six months before the current CETA project grant would end. Plaintiff argues that the legislature could not have intended such premature and unfair personnel decisions as would result when the Tenure Act is applied to project training specialists.

• 1-4 The cardinal rule of statutory interpretation is to ascertain and give effect to the true intent and meaning of the legislature. (General Motors Corp. v. Industrial Com. (1975), 62 Ill.2d 106, 112, 338 N.E.2d 561, 564.) The language used is the primary source for determining this intent (General Motors Corp.), and if legislative intent can be ascertained from its provisions, that intent will prevail without resorting to other aids for construction. But where differing interpretations are proffered, legislative intent must be determined from the reasons for the enactment and the purposes to be thereby attained as well as the ...


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