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Lindsey v. Board of Education

OPINION FILED SEPTEMBER 12, 1984.

EARLEAN LINDSEY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Joseph Wosik, Judge, presiding.

PRESIDING JUSTICE LINN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendant ad hoc committee, created by and composed of members of defendant Board of Education of the city of Chicago (Board) for the purpose of negotiating an employment contract for the position of general superintendent of schools with Dr. Manford Byrd, called a special meeting on July 25, 1984, to effectuate its purpose. Public notice of this meeting was posted less than 24 hours prior to the meeting, in alleged contravention of the general notice provision of the Illinois Open Meetings Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 102, par. 42.02(a)).

Plaintiff, Earlean Lindsey, filed a complaint and emergency motion for injunction, asking the court to enjoin defendants from continuing the July 25 meeting and from future violations of the Act.

The trial court issued a preliminary injunction, enjoining the Board from "appointing anyone," and specifically Dr. Byrd, to the position of general superintendent pending a full hearing on the merits.

Defendants filed an interlocutory appeal, praying that the preliminary injunction be vacated.

We vacate the preliminary injunction.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On July 23, 1984, the Board voted not to reappoint Dr. Ruth Love as general superintendent of schools but rather to negotiate with Dr. Manford Byrd, Jr., to assume the position at the conclusion of Dr. Love's term in March 1985. The president of the board appointed a three-member ad hoc committee for the purpose of negotiating with Dr. Byrd the terms and conditions of the proposed contract.

On July 25, 1984, the chairman of the ad hoc committee called a special meeting to convene at 3:30 p.m. on that same afternoon. Public notice of this special meeting was not posted at the Board's office until the morning of July 25, the same day the meeting was to take place. The notice did not name Dr. Byrd as the offeree of the proposed contract but stated only that the agenda of the meeting was to consist of "discussion re Contractual Agreement/General Superintendency." Some four hours before the meeting was scheduled to begin, telephone notice was given to select community organizations and members of the news media.

When the meeting convened at 3:30 p.m., the committee voted to go into closed session to discuss "personnel matters." When it came out of closed session, it voted to reconvene the following day. Subsequent to the adjournment of that session, one of the committee members announced to the news media that the two members of the committee who had been present at the meeting were in substantial agreement with Dr. Byrd as to the terms of the proposed contract.

On July 26, while the reconvened committee meeting was in progress, plaintiff, Earlean Lindsey, filed a complaint and emergency motion for injunction, alleging that the July 25 meeting was held in violation of the Open Meetings Act (Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 102, pars. 41 through 46) and asking, inter alia, that the circuit court enjoin the Board, the ad hoc committee, and the individual committee members from continuing the July 25 meeting and from continuing to violate the Act.

A hearing on plaintiff's complaint and motion for injunction was held before the Honorable Joseph Wosik on the afternoon of July 26. Instead of filing a verified answer, defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that the "volatile situation that was developing in the community," based on the belief that Dr. Byrd was not being considered as Dr. Love's successor, had given rise to an emergency such as to trigger the emergency notice provision of the Open Meetings Act, which dispenses with the 24-hour notice requirement and requires only that notice be given "as soon as practicable." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 102, par. 42.02(a).) Alleging the existence of an emergency and that the facts were undisputed, defendants moved for summary judgment in their favor.

At a hearing held on July 27, after allowing both parties an opportunity to be heard, the court found that the issue of whether an emergency had existed such as to dispense with the 24-hour notice requirement was a factual one, mandating a full hearing on the merits. So finding, the court denied defendants' motion for summary judgment. In response to plaintiff's complaint and motion, the court issued an order that provided in paragraph 5 the following preliminary injunction:

"5. A preliminary injunction is issued against the Board of Education enjoining them from appointing anyone to the position of General Superintendent of Schools and specifically enjoining them from appointing Manford Byrd, ...


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