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Daleanes v. Board of Education

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 27, 1983.

THOMAS DALEANES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

BOARD OF EDUCATION OF BENJAMIN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL DISTRICT 25, DU PAGE COUNTY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County; the Hon. S. Bruce Scidmore, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE LINDBERG DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Plaintiff, Thomas Daleanes, a school superintendent for defendant Board of Education of Benjamin Elementary School District 25 (hereinafter the board), appeals the summary judgment of the circuit court of Du Page County against his action in which he claimed that he was improperly dismissed from his employment by the board. Because we view the board's conduct to constitute a valid non-renewal of Daleanes' contract, we affirm.

In February 1981, Daleanes was employed under contract as the superintendent of schools by the board. At its regularly scheduled meeting on February 16, 1981, the board unanimously passed a resolution that contained the following declarations:

"Section 1: That this Board of Education hereby determines that Thomas Daleanes shall not be reemployed as superintendent of this School District for the next ensuing school term, and accordingly that the present contract of employment of Thomas Daleanes shall terminate at the close of the present school term.

Section 2: That the President and Secretary of the Board of Education are hereby authorized and directed to give Thomas Daleanes notice of this Board's decision not to re-employ said superintendent for the next ensuing school term which shall be substantially in the form of Exhibit 1 attached hereto and made a part hereof.

Section 3: That the President and Secretary of this Board of Education are hereby authorized and directed to give Thomas Daleanes a specific Bill of Particulars in connection with the non-renewal of his contract and Mr. Daleanes may request a closed-session hearing within 10 days after receipt of such notice.

Section 4: This resolution shall be in full force and effect from and after its adoption."

The Board, by its president and secretary, subsequently served Daleanes with a letter dated February 16, 1981, stating the following:

"You are hereby notified that the Board of Education of Benjamin School District No. 25, DuPage County, Illinois, have decided it will not re-employ you as superintendent of this School District for the ensuing school term, and your contract of employment will therefore terminate at the close of the present school term.

The specific reasons for the non-renewal of your contract are set out in the attached Exhibit A. Within 10 days you may request a closed-session hearing on this dismissal at which time you have the privilege of presenting evidence, witnesses and defenses on the grounds for dismissal."

Simultaneously with the letter, Daleanes received a four-page document entitled "Bill of Particulars," also dated February 16, 1981, and setting forth 30 reasons for Daleanes' dismissal. At its next regular meeting on March 16, 1981, the board approved its official minutes of the February 16 meeting. Those minutes contained the quoted resolution and letter, but did not include the bill of particulars.

Daleanes formally requested a closed-session hearing on the subject of his non-renewal on February 24, 1981. The board subsequently announced that it would hold a special closed meeting on March 6, 1981, with "Consideration of Employment of a Superintendent" as the sole agendum. The closed-session hearing on Daleanes' non-renewal was held on April 7 and 15 and May 1, 1981. On May 11, 1981, the board by resolution affirmed its determination not to renew Daleanes' contract. Although it did strike 13 of the causes enumerated in the bill of particulars, the board's affirmation was based upon the proof of the remaining 17 enumerated causes.

This action was initiated by Daleanes on May 8, 1981, with a complaint which sought declaratory and injunctive relief and which was amended to seek contract damages, all in redress for the board's allegedly invalid decision not to renew his contract. The procedural history of this action in the trial court has been long and complex and need not be detailed here. Daleanes notes, however, that the dispute over his employment has also given rise to a separate action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (No. 82 C 214) and an interlocutory appeal from the present action (No. 81-757), which this court dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Neither the Federal court action nor the previous appeal to this court is relevant to the issues raised in this appeal. On November 22, 1982, the trial court granted summary judgment in the board's favor, from which Daleanes brings this timely appeal.

We first address a contention by Daleanes that the trial court erred in permitting the board to file a response to his notice to admit facts after the deadline for such response provided in Supreme Court Rule 216 (73 Ill.2d R. 216). Although the notice had been filed on January 29, 1982, the board did not seek leave to respond until after Daleanes' April 13, 1982, motion for judgment on the pleadings, which relied upon the requested admissions. The trial court first denied the board leave to respond, but, upon the board's motion to reconsider, ...


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