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09/04/87 Ronald L. Howard, v. the Board of Education of

September 4, 1987

RONALD L. HOWARD, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF FREEPORT SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 145, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, SECOND DISTRICT

513 N.E.2d 545, 160 Ill. App. 3d 309, 112 Ill. Dec. 131 1987.IL.1295

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Stephenson County; the Hon. Francis X. Mahoney, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE NASH delivered the opinion of the court. DUNN and HOPF, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE NASH

Plaintiff, Ronald Howard, appeals from a judgment rendered by the circuit court in favor of the defendant, board of education of Freeport School District No. 145, in an action in which plaintiff sought declaratory judgment and mandamus to compel the defendant school district to reinstate plaintiff as a teacher and to grant him tenure. Plaintiff contends that the trial court erred in finding that the notice of his dismissal was timely and that it adequately set forth the reason for dismissal.

The following facts were adduced at trial and are undisputed. Plaintiff was employed by the defendant school district on July 1, 1984, as an administrative assistant for support services. He was responsible for supervising custodial, maintenance and transportation services within the district, and was considered to be a probationary teacher for purposes of the applicability of the tenure laws (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 122, par. 24-11). Plaintiff was formally evaluated in 1985, and was then reemployed for the 1985-86 school term. Plaintiff's 1986 evaluation, however, suggested deficiencies in the area of his responsibilities for personnel, and, prior to his subsequent dismissal, the district superintendent met with plaintiff several times to discuss specific problems involving plaintiff's secretary, bus drivers, bus aides, and public relations.

The original calendar established by the school board for the 1985-86 school year set the opening date of the school term on August 21, and the closing date on June 6. August 21, 22, February 11, and June 6 were scheduled as institute days. The closing date was subsequently revised by the board to June 9 to account for the addition of Casimir Pulaski's birthday as a holiday.

On April 2, 1986, the school board voted to dismiss plaintiff, and on April 3, plaintiff received a written notice of dismissal which stated as the reason for his dismissal "your inability to adequately supervise employees under your control." During the April 2 meeting, the board also voted to revise the school calendar to account for unused snow days, and set May 30 as the last day of classes and June 2 as an institute day. No classes were held on June 2, as this was graduation day; however, teachers were required to attend and were paid for this day.

In entering judgment for the defendant school board, the trial court found that the notice of dismissal was timely and that it adequately set forth the reasons for plaintiff's dismissal.

Plaintiff contends that the notice of dismissal was untimely in that the school term ended on May 30, which was the last day of classes, and he did not receive notice of his dismissal at least 60 days prior thereto. Defendant argues that the school term ended on June 2, which was, albeit an institute day, the closing day set by the school calendar.

The School Code provides, in pertinent part:

"As used in this and the succeeding Sections of this Article, . . . "school term" means that portion of the school year, July 1 to the following June 30, when school is in actual session. . . .

Any teacher who has been employed in any district as a full-time teacher for a probationary period of 2 consecutive school terms shall enter upon contractual continued service unless given written notice of dismissal stating the specific reason therefor, by registered mail by the employing board at least 60 ...


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