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05/14/87 Local 143 International v. the Board of Education of

May 14, 1987

AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES

v.

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



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FOURTH DIVISION

LOCAL 143 INTERNATIONAL UNION OF OPERATING ENGINEERS et

509 N.E.2d 512, 156 Ill. App. 3d 431, 108 Ill. Dec. 816 1987.IL.626

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. George M. Marovich, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE JIGANTI delivered the opinion of the court. McMORROW, P.J., and JOHNSON, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE JIGANTI

The plaintiffs, Local 143 International Union of Operating Engineers (union) and several of its individual members who are employed by the defendant board of education of the city of Chicago (board), brought this declaratory judgment action against the board, the general superintendent of schools, and the commissioner of personnel of the city of Chicago seeking a declaration that the board is required to follow the civil service law in filling vacancies in the position of district supervising engineer. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the union, and the board has appealed, contending that: (1) the Illinois School Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 122, par. 1-1 et seq.) grants the board discretion in choosing whether or not to follow the civil service law in making personnel appointments; (2) the judgment of the trial court is impossible to implement because the Civil Service Commission of Chicago is no longer in existence; and (3) there is no actual controversy between the parties sufficient to warrant declaratory relief.

In its complaint for declaratory relief, the union alleged that prior to 1984, the board filled vacancies in the position of district supervising engineer from registers of eligible candidates compiled from the results of promotional examinations limited to employees in the next lower job classification, engineer custodian grade No. 5. At that time, the city of Chicago came within the provisions of the "Civil Service in Cities" law, codified as section 10-1-1 of the Illinois Municipal Code (Municipal Code) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 24, par. 10-1-1 et seq). Pursuant to these provisions, the city established a Civil Service Commission, which classified personnel positions, conducted examinations, and performed various other functions related to the implementation of the civil service law. While the Civil Service Commission was in existence, the board relied upon it to conduct competitive promotional examinations and create registers of successful candidates from which the board made its personnel appointments.

In 1975, the city of Chicago, pursuant to its home-rule powers, enacted section 25.1 of the city of Chicago Municipal Code (Chicago Municipal Code sec. 25.1 -- 1 et seq. (1982)), which adopted a city Personnel Code in place of the civil service law contained in the State Municipal Code. (Resman v. Personnel Board (1981), 96 Ill. App. 3d 919, 422 N.E.2d 120.) The Civil Service Commission was abolished at that time and the city personnel board was established in its place. As a result, the last promotional examination for the position of district supervising engineer was held in 1974. The board sometime thereafter enacted the following rule adopting the system of "career service" contained in the city Personnel Code:

"Career Service Appointments. All employees of the Board of Education with the exception of the General Superintendent of Schools, heads of general departments now in existence or hereafter established, members of the teaching force, the Attorney and assistant attorneys, the Secretary, Assistant Secretary, and members of the Board of Examiners, shall be appointed pursuant to the ordinances of the City of Chicago providing for creation and regulation of the rules of said Department. All Career Service appointments, including exempt positions, shall be made by a majority of the full membership of the Board of Education." (Rules of Board of Education of the City of Chicago, ch. IV, Personnel Policies, sec. 4 -- 1.)

The board in its appellate brief states that since 1975, "[competitive] examinations pursuant to the City of Chicago Personnel Code and competitive examinations prepared and administered by the Board of Examiners of the Board of Education of the City of Chicago have been conducted . . . and eligible rosters have been prepared from those results, but no Civil Service appointments have been made."

On February 28, 1984, the board issued a personnel bulletin soliciting letters of application for the position of district supervising engineer from certified engineer custodians, grade No. 4 or higher. There was no indication that a competitive promotional examination would be held. On April 26, 1984, counsel for the union sent a letter to the board requesting an explanation as to why the position of district supervising engineer had been removed from the career service examination procedure. The board did not respond. On July 23, 1984, two persons holding the position of engineer custodian grade No. 5 were given non-civil service appointments as district supervising engineers; another engineer custodian grade No. 5 was given a provisional appointment as a district supervising engineer.

The union then filed the instant lawsuit requesting the trial court to declare that the board was required to follow the civil service law in filling the position of district supervising engineer. In paragraph 11 of its complaint, the union alleged that "there is an actual controversy between plaintiffs and defendants involving construction of the Civil Service Act and School Code." The board expressly admitted this allegation in its answer. On the union's motion, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the union, finding that the civil service provisions of the Illinois Municipal Code were made applicable to the board by sections 34-13 and 34-15 of the School Code (School Code) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 122, pars. 34-13, 34-15). The court further ruled that the board had no power to exempt the position of district supervising engineer from the civil service law and that it accordingly had a duty to hold a promotional examination for that position limited to applicants holding the position of engineer custodian grade No. 5, to create an eligible register of successful candidates, and to fill vacancies in the position of district supervising engineer by appointments from that register.

On appeal, the board first construes the provisions of the School Code as giving it discretion to choose whether or not to follow the civil service provisions of the ...


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