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Board of Education v. Adelman

OPINION FILED NOVEMBER 6, 1985.

BOARD OF EDUCATION OF ST. CHARLES COMMUNITY UNIT SCHOOL DISTRICT, NO. 303, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE AND CROSS-APPELLANT,

v.

DAVID W. ADELMAN, HEARING OFFICER FOR THE ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS AND CROSS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County; the Hon. Paul W. Schnake, Judge, presiding.

PRESIDING JUSTICE NASH DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendant, Daniel Kroll, appeals from an order of the circuit court which, on administrative review, reversed the decision of a hearing officer for the Illinois State Board of Education reinstating defendant to his teaching position with plaintiff, board of education of St. Charles Community Unit School District No. 303, from which he had been discharged.

This is the second appeal in this case. In Board of Education v. Adelman (1981), 97 Ill. App.3d 530, 423 N.E.2d 254, this court affirmed the trial court's reversal of an earlier decision of the same hearing officer in which an improper "clear and convincing" standard of proof had been applied to the evidence, rather than the preponderance of the evidence standard which is applicable to a teacher dismissal proceeding. (97 Ill. App.3d 530, 533, 423 N.E.2d 254.) On remand, the hearing officer again considered the evidence produced at the earlier hearing before him and, on application of the proper standard of proof, reaffirmed his earlier findings and again ordered that defendant be reinstated. In doing so, the hearing officer noted a lack of corroboration of portions of the testimony of the arresting officers and also concluded that the credibility of the witnesses to the incident in question should be resolved in favor of defendant. Plaintiff sought administrative review in the circuit court, which again reversed the decision of the hearing officer as against the manifest weight of the evidence, and this appeal followed.

Defendant contends (1) that plaintiff school board failed to initiate the administrative review proceeding in the circuit court within the time prescribed by statute, and (2) that the trial court erred in its determination the decision of the administrative agency was against the manifest weight of the evidence. We reverse the circuit court and affirm the decision of the administrative agency.

The background facts in this case are stated in our earlier opinion (see Board of Education v. Adelman (1981), 97 Ill. App.3d 530, 423 N.E.2d 254), and need not be repeated here. We consider the first issue to be dispositive.

Section 3-103 of the Administrative Review Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 110, par. 3-103) provides that "[e]very action to review a final administrative decision shall be commenced by the filing of a complaint and issuance of summons within 35 days from the date that a copy of the decision sought to be reviewed was served upon the party affected thereby." It is undisputed that a copy of the decision of the hearing officer in this case was sent by certified mail to plaintiff's attorney on June 30, 1983, and that plaintiff filed its complaint for administrative review in the circuit court 36 days later on August 5, 1983. Plaintiff contends the date it received the copy of the decision, July 5, 1983, should be considered the date it was served, and that plaintiff was thus timely in commencing its action.

Section 3-103 of the Administrative Review Act also states,

"The method of service of the decision shall be as provided in the Act governing the procedure before the administrative agency, but if no method is provided, a decision shall be deemed to have been served either when personally delivered or when deposited in the United States mail * * * addressed to the party affected thereby at his or her last known residence or place of business." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 110, par. 3-103.)

Section 24-12 of the School Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 122, par. 24-12) governs removal and dismissal proceedings of tenured teachers and requires that such matters be considered by a hearing officer appointed by the State Board of Education. The State Board is also required by section 24-14 of the School Code to adopt standards and rules of procedure for such hearings, and it has provided in its rules that,

"`Service' shall mean service of any document by personal service or by certified or registered mail, postage prepaid, to the individual's last known address." (23 Ill. Adm. Code 51.10.)

Furthermore, the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 127, pars. 1001 et seq.) applies to the administrative rules and procedures of the State Board under the School Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 122, par. 1A-7), and it provides,

"Parties or their agents appointed to receive service of process shall be notified either personally or by registered or certified mail of any decision or order." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 127, par. 1014.)

See Massoud v. Board of Education (1981), 97 Ill. App.3d 65, 68-69, 422 N.E.2d 236, appeal denied (1981), 85 Ill.2d 556.

• 1 It is established that when no method of service has been provided by statute, the decision of an administrative agency will be deemed served when mailed. (Cox v. Board of Fire & Police Commissioners (1983), 96 Ill.2d 399, 403, 451 N.E.2d 842.) In the present case, it has been provided by statute and rules of procedure that such a decision of this administrative agency will be deemed served when mailed, ...


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