APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, SECOND DISTRICT
505 N.E.2d 32, 152 Ill. App. 3d 936, 105 Ill. Dec. 906 1987.IL.240
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County; the Hon. Alford R. Penniman, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE INGLIS delivered the opinion of the court. LINDBERG, P.J., and WOODWARD, J., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE INGLIS
The plaintiff, board of education of Rockford School District No. 205, challenged the action of certain petitioners who sought to detach territory from their special charter school district. The hearing board, which was composed of representatives from the two districts, granted the petition. The circuit court, on administrative review, affirmed, and the plaintiff timely appealed.
On July 18, 1983, petitioners filed a petition for detachment pursuant to section 7-2.4 of the School Code (Code) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 122, par. 7-2.4) requesting that certain real estate be detached from the Rockford District (plaintiff) (a special charter school district) and annexed to the Winnebago District. The real estate is comprised of approximately 4.7 square miles (2,986 acres) and is situated in the far southwest corner of the Rockford District and immediately adjacent to the Winnebago District in Winnebago County.
Plaintiff filed an objection to the petition for detachment and appointed two members from its school board to serve as members of a seven-person special hearing board (hearing board) which would consider the merits of the petition for detachment. (See Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 122, par. 7-2.5.) The office of the regional board of school trustees (regional board) appointed two people from the Winnebago District to serve on the hearing board. As the appointees made to the hearing board by the Rockford District and the Winnebago District were unable to agree upon an additional three members to be appointed to comprise the balance of the hearing board, the Illinois State Board of Education appointed three people who reside outside the jurisdiction of both the Rockford and the Winnebago districts and who have experience in the field of education.
On November 21, 22, and 26, 1984, the hearing board met, heard testimony, and considered the exhibits and arguments of counsel. On December 10, 1984, a written order of detachment and annexation was entered by the hearing board in conformity with the requirements of section 7-2.6 of the School Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 122, par. 7-2.6).
Plaintiff filed a petition for rehearing with the hearing board which was denied. Plaintiff thereafter perfected an appeal to the circuit court from that decision by filing a complaint for administrative review pursuant to section 7-2.7 of the School Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 122, par. 7-2.7). On December 16, 1985, the circuit court entered a judgment affirming the decision of the hearing board granting the petition for detachment. This appeal followed.
Plaintiff sets forth several contentions on appeal. Since we find plaintiff's first contention dispositive, we will refrain from addressing the others. Plaintiff contends that the creation of noncontiguous islands of territory within the Winnebago District which must still be serviced by the Rockford District violates State law which requires that school districts be compact and contiguous. We agree.
It is well settled that case law and statutory law require compact and contiguous school district boundaries. (See People ex rel. Tudor v. Vance (1940), 374 Ill. 415; People ex rel. Sackmann v. Keechler (1901), 194 Ill. 235; Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 122, par. 7-4.) The hearing board failed to adhere to this requirement, and the detachment petition should not have been granted. Plaintiff notes that in the case at bar, the detachment would result in the creation of eight islands which are approximately one mile from the Rockford District western boundary. Plaintiff traced the boundary and proved conclusively that eight islands would exist approximately one mile from the Rockford District. An examination of the legal descriptions and the record reveals that the following parcels, now a part of Rockford District, would become noncontiguous, territorial islands within the Winnebago District and yet remain a part of Rockford District: