Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County; the Hon. John L.
Nickels, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE HOPF DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Plaintiff, Joann M. Verdeyen, filed a three-count complaint against defendant, board of education of Batavia Public School District No. 101, Kane County, seeking a declaration of her statutory rights under the School Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 122, par. 1-1 et seq.) and a determination of other contractual and common law rights. Specifically, count I sought declaratory and injunctive relief and damages for defendant's violation of plaintiff's seniority rights under sections 10-22.23, 24-11, and 24-12 of the School Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 122, pars. 10-22.23, 24-11, 24-12). In count II plaintiff requested declaratory and injunctive relief and damages based on equitable estoppel. Count III set forth a claim for declaratory and injunctive relief and damages for the defendant's breach of the collective-bargaining agreement between defendant and the Batavia Education Association.
Subsequently, plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment on counts I and III of her complaint, pursuant to section 2-1005 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 110, par. 2-1005) and Illinois Supreme Court Rule 191 (87 Ill.2d R. 191). Defendant filed a countermotion for summary judgment on counts I, II, and III. Both parties submitted memoranda in support of their respective motions. Following oral argument on the motions, the trial court denied plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and granted defendant's motion for summary judgment on counts I, II, and III. This appeal followed.
Plaintiff, a registered nurse who has been licensed by the State of Illinois since 1962, was hired by defendant as a full-time nurse for the 1974-75 school term. At that time, defendant applied for and plaintiff was issued a "letter of approval" from the school approval section of the Illinois State Board of Education. A second "letter of approval" was issued for the 1975-76 school term.
In 1975 the Illinois State legislature amended section 10-22.23 of the School Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 122, par. 10-22.23), requiring that any school nurse employed by a school board on or after July 1, 1976, must have a school service personnel certificate in accordance with the requisites set forth in section 21-25 of the School Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 122, par. 21-25). School nurses hired prior to July 1, 1976, were not required to have a certificate in order to continue their employment. Section 21-25 provides that an applicant for a school service personnel certificate must have a bachelor's degree from a recognized institution of higher learning. As of June 1976, plaintiff needed 12 credit hours to complete her bachelor's degree.
According to plaintiff's affidavit, filed with her motion for summary judgment, plaintiff met with Dr. James A. Clark, superintendent of District 101, before registering for the 1976 summer college term to determine whether it was necessary for her to complete the requirements for her bachelor's degree during that summer. By completing these requirements, plaintiff would be able to become certified by the beginning of the 1976-77 school term. In her affidavit plaintiff stated that Dr. Clark assured her that it was not necessary for her to become certified by the beginning of the 1976-77 school term. Dr. Clark, in his affidavit which accompanied the defendant's summary judgment motion, recalled no specific details of his conversation with plaintiff, but related it was not unlikely that he would have told plaintiff that to continue her employment for the 1976-77 school year she did not need to have a school service personnel certificate since she had been hired as a school nurse prior to July 1, 1976.
In her affidavit plaintiff stated that she had relied on the statements which she attributed to Dr. Clark and did not complete the requirements for her bachelor's degree until the summer of 1977. Following receipt of her degree, plaintiff applied for and was issued a school service personnel certificate.
On March 23, 1983, plaintiff received written notice that defendant had honorably reduced her from a full-time to a part-time nurse due to the financial conditions of the school district. As a result, plaintiff worked three days a week rather than five during the 1983-84 and 1984-85 school years. During the period plaintiff was employed on a part-time basis, Judy Grosklag, a certified school nurse hired in August 1976, continued to be employed on a full-time basis.
In the memorandum supporting her motion for summary judgment, plaintiff contended that Grosklag, rather than plaintiff, should have been reduced from a full-time nurse to a part-time nurse since plaintiff had two more years of seniority with the school district than Grosklag. Plaintiff further stated that due to her reliance on Dr. Clark's representations that she did not need to become certified by the beginning of the 1976-77 school term, she deliberately refrained from completing her bachelor's degree until 1977. Plaintiff believed that the defendant would count her seniority as beginning from her date of hire in 1974 and not from her date of certification in 1977. Additionally, plaintiff set forth in her affidavit that due to defendant's failure to give her proper seniority, she had been paid an improper salary for the school years of 1977-84.
Following a hearing on plaintiff's motion for summary judgment as to counts I and III of plaintiff's complaint and on defendant's motion for summary judgment as to counts I, II, and III, and a review of the pleadings and memoranda filed by the parties, the trial court found that the plaintiff did not become certified for tenure by virtue of the 1975 amendment of section 10-22.23 of the School Code; that plaintiff first qualified for tenure for the 1979-80 school term; that Judy Grosklag qualified for tenure for the school term 1978-79; and that count II of plaintiff's complaint did not state a cause of action in estoppel.
On appeal plaintiff contends: (1) that the trial court erred in determining that plaintiff did not become automatically certified by virtue of the 1975 amendment to the School Code and therefore did not enter into contractual service in the 1976-77 school term; (2) that plaintiff had more continuous service within the school district than Grosklag; (3) that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment for the defendant on count II; and (4) that the trial court erred in holding that defendant did not breach the collective-bargaining agreement between defendant and the Batavia Education Association.
When defendant hired plaintiff in October 1974, school nurses were not required to be certified under the School Code. In 1975 the Illinois legislature amended section 10-22.23 of the School Code to require that school nurses be certified. As amended, the section provides:
"To employ a registered professional nurse and define the duties of the school nurse within the guidelines of rules and regulations promulgated by the State Board of Education. Any nurse first employed on or after July 1, 1976 must be certificated under Section 21-25 of this Act." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 122, par. 10-22.23.)
Under the amendment, a school board could continue to employ an uncertified nurse if she was hired prior to July 1, 1976. But, any nurse hired after that date was required to be certified under section 21-25 of the School Code.
Section 21-25 provides in relevant part:
"A school service personnel certificate shall be issued to those applicants * * * who have a Bachelor's degree with not fewer than 120 semester hours from a recognized institution of higher learning and who meets the requirements established by the State Superintendent of Education in consultation with the State Teacher Certification Board. * * * The holder of such certificate shall be entitled to all of the rights and privileges granted holders of a valid teaching certificate, including teacher benefits, compensation and working conditions." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 122, par. 21-25.)
Consequently, under the provisions of section 21-25, any school nurse hired after July 1, 1976, must have applied for and been issued a school service personnel certificate. To receive that certificate she must have earned a bachelor's degree from a recognized institution of higher learning. Once a school nurse became certificated, she was entitled to all of the rights and privileges granted teachers, including contractual continued service or tenure. However, to enter upon contractual continued service, a certified nurse must first have been employed within a school district for a probationary period of two consecutive school years. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 122, par. 24-11.
Section 24-12 of the School Code deals in part with the removal or dismissal of teachers in contractual continued service. This section applies to school nurses as well, since "teacher," as defined under section 24-11 of the School Code, "means any or all school district employees regularly required to be certified under laws relating to the certification of teachers." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 122, par. 24-11.) The terms "removal" or "dismissal" as used in section 24-12 encompass any reduction in the extent of a teacher's employment, including the reduction from a full-time position to a part-time position (Catron v. Board of Education (1984), 126 Ill. App.3d 693, 696, 467 N.E.2d 621; Caviness v. Board of Education (1978), 59 Ill. App.3d 28, 30-31, 375 N.E.2d 157), and "[a]s between teachers who have entered upon contractual continued service, the teacher or teachers with the shorter length of continuing service with the district shall be dismissed first" (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 122, par. 24-12).
It is plaintiff's first contention that the language of amended section 10-22.23 of the School Code, relating to the hiring of school nurses, not only did not require her to become certified but also granted her previous experience as a school nurse the equivalent of certification. Plaintiff maintains, therefore, that since she had been employed by defendant during the 1974-75 and 1975-76 school terms, thereby fulfilling the two-year probationary requirement of section 24-11, she entered contractual continued service and became eligible for tenure at the beginning of the 1976-77 school term. As Judy Grosklag was not hired by the defendant until 1976, she did not become eligible for tenure until the beginning of the 1978-79 school term. Consequently, plaintiff asserts that she acquired tenure two years prior to Grosklag and, thus, as the nurse with the shorter length of continuing service, Grosklag rather than plaintiff should have been reduced to a part-time position. However, we do not agree with plaintiff's interpretation of the amendatory language of section 10-22.23 and the results she reaches by that interpretation.
• 1, 2 The cardinal rule of statutory interpretation is to ascertain and give effect to the intent of the legislature in enacting the statute. (Swanson v. Board of Education (1985), 135 Ill. App.3d 466, 470, 481 N.E.2d 1248.) The language used is a primary source for determining legislative intent (Board of Trustees v. Taylor (1983), 114 Ill. App.3d 318, 322, 448 N.E.2d 1171), and where the language is clear, it will be given effect without resort to other sources. People v. Boykin (1983), 94 Ill.2d 138, 141, 445 N.E.2d 1174.
The plain language of amended section 10-22.23 states that any nurse first employed on or after July 1, 1976, must be certificated under section 21-25 of the School Code. Section 21-25 clearly states that an applicant for a school service personnel certificate must possess a bachelor's degree in order to be issued the certificate. No exceptions to this requirement appear within section 21-25, and clearly no provision appears in section 21-25 or section 10-22.23 to indicate or even imply that the experience of a school nurse hired prior to July 1, 1976, automatically qualifies her for a certificate or makes her eligible to be considered certified despite her lack of a certificate. In this respect, we agree with defendant's contention that on its face the language of 10-22.23 does not grant nurses employed by a school board prior to July 1, 1976, any certified status.
• 3, 4 Nevertheless, when differing interpretations of the statute are proffered, as is the case here, legislative intent must be gathered not only from the language used, but also from the reasons for the enactment and the purposes to be thereby attained. (Pielet Brothers Trading, Inc. v. Pollution Control Board (1982), 110 Ill. App.3d 752, 755, 442 N.E.2d 1374.) Moreover, in determining legislative intent courts may consider the entire statutory scheme, construing the statute in a fashion which renders it useful and logical. (Swanson v. Board of Education (1985), 135 Ill. App.3d 466, 471, 481 N.E.2d 1248.) By considering section 10-22.23 in relation to sections 21-25, 24-11, and 24-12 of the School Code, it is apparent that the legislature's reasons for enacting the amendment to section 10-22.23 were to assure the employment of qualified nurses by school boards and to guarantee those nurses who have qualified for a school personnel certificate priority over non-tenured nurses or over those with lesser continuing service. It would seem that the purposes to be attained thereby were to provide nurses with some degree of job stability free from arbitrary hiring and firing, to attract nurses of high capabilities, and to provide for the retention of qualified nurses.
Both plaintiff and defendant refer to the same statements made by legislators during the passage of the amendment to section 10-22.23 to support their respective positions regarding the interpretation of the amendatory language. We consider both interpretations to be incorrect, although we find the legislative statements ambiguous and confusing and little help in providing any real guidance regarding the legislative intent.
The particular statements relied on by both parties appeared during the following Senate debate on the third reading of Senate Bill 1369 ...