APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, SECOND DIVISION
THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF CENTER CASS SCHOOL DISTRICT NO.
515 N.E.2d 280, 161 Ill. App. 3d 723, 113 Ill. Dec. 471
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Richard L. Curry, Judge, presiding. 1987.IL.1395
JUSTICE HARTMAN delivered the opinion of the court. STAMOS and BILANDIC, JJ., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE HARTMAN
Plaintiff, board of education of Center Cass School District No. 66, Du Page County (Cass board), appeals dismissal of its administrative review complaint by the circuit court of Cook County for lack of standing. This court is asked to review whether: (1) plaintiff has standing as a "district affected" to challenge the State Superintendent's approval of a petition for combining two school districts when plaintiff was not a party to the public hearings conducted by the subject regional superintendent or the review conducted by the State Superintendent; and (2) plaintiff should have been granted leave to intervene in the proceedings before the State Superintendent in his review of the Cook County regional matter.
On December 14, 1985, a petition to combine the territory comprising Lemont Community Consolidated School District No. 113, Cook County (Lemont board) and Bromberek School District No. 65, Du Page County (Bromberek board) (Lemont-Bromberek petition) was filed with Richard J. Martwick, regional superintendent of the Educational Service Region for Cook County (Cook County superintendent). On February 10, 1986, a petition was filed with Berardo DeSimone, regional superintendent of the Educational Service Region for Du Page County (Du Page County superintendent) seeking to combine the territory comprising Cass board with Bromberek board (Cass-Bromberek petition). On April 17, 1986, a second petition to combine Cass board and Bromberek board was filed and the preceding petition was dismissed. All petitions were filed under article 11B of the Illinois School Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 122, par. 11B-1 et seq.) (School Code), which sets forth the procedure for combining school districts.
Forming a combined district requires conformity with the following procedures: a petition must be filed by the school boards of each district affected or by 10% of the legal voters of such districts; evidentiary hearings must be conducted by the superintendent of the region in which the greater portion of the territory to be combined is situated; the evidence to be heard must relate to the school needs and conditions in the territory which is proposed to form the intended combined district; approval or denial of the petition by the regional superintendent is subject to the State Superintendent's review under criteria provided by the School Code; and, if approved by him or her, the voters of the proposed combined district must ratify its creation at a referendum election absent further review. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 122, pars. 11B-2, 11B-3, 11B-7.) The State Superintendent's order is deemed an "administrative decision" subject to judicial review under the Administrative Review Law (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 110, par. 3-101 et seq.) and may be sought by "any resident who appears at the hearing or any petitioner or board of education of any district affected." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 122, par. 11B-4.
From February 17, 1986, through April 10, 1986, the Cook County superintendent conducted hearings on the Lemont-Bromberek petition. The Cass board made no attempt to participate in these proceedings or to object to them. On April 22, 1986, the Cook County superintendent approved the Lemont-Bromberek petition and forwarded his order, the petition and the evidence heard by him to the State Superintendent for review.
Apparently, Case board thereafter sought to enjoin defendant Illinois State Superintendent Ted Sanders from considering the Lemont-Bromberek petition without concurrently considering the Cass-Bromberek petition. The circuit court of Cook County denied that relief.
Superintendent Sanders issued his decision approving the Lemont-Bromberek petition on May 22, 1986. On May 23, 1986, Cass board filed a petition to intervene with the State Superintendent, alleging that the same or similar issues of fact and law were involved in the two petitions. Parenthetically, the hearings before the Du Page County superintendent were still proceeding at that time. On May 27, 1986, the State Superintendent declined to act on the petition to intervene, stating that: neither section 11B-3 of the School Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 122, par. 11B-3) nor any other statute permitted him to consider a petition to intervene filed as a supplement to a local hearing conducted by the regional superintendent; and he was limited to reviewing the record of the proceedings held by the regional superintendent.
Meanwhile, the Du Page County superintendent had been holding hearings on the Cass-Bromberek petition from May 13, 1986, through June 26, 1986. On June 30, 1986, he issued an order denying two motions to dismiss the Cass-Bromberek petition, filed by Bromberek board and a resident of Bromberek District, and approving the Cass-Bromberek petition.
That same day, June 30, 1986, plaintiff Cass board, in Cook County, filed a two-count complaint for administrative review of the State Superintendent's declination to act on Cass board's petition to intervene before him and of his approval of the Lemont-Bromberek petition. The complaint alleged that the State Superintendent's decision was incorrect and the proceedings before the Cook County ...