APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIFTH DISTRICT
520 N.E.2d 954, 166 Ill. App. 3d 765, 117 Ill. Dec. 603 1988.IL.181
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Hardin County; the Hon. Leo Desmond, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE CALVO delivered the opinion of the court. HARRISON, P.J., and LEWIS, J., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE CALVO
Plaintiff, Eileen Sandra Williams, has perfected this appeal from the dismissal of her complaint for declaratory judgment against defendant, Board of Education of Hardin County Community Unit School District No. 1. The facts as alleged in the complaint are as follows.
Plaintiff, a certified teacher, was employed by defendant as a full-time teacher during the 1980-81 and 1981-82 school terms. On March 25, 1982, defendant informed plaintiff that her probationary status was being extended for another year because of weak discipline, poor working relationship with administrators, and poor attitude toward work assignments. She was told how she could rectify these problems during her third probationary year. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 122, par. 24-11.) Plaintiff taught full time for the entire 1982-83 school year.
On March 24, 1983, defendant notified plaintiff that she was being reduced to a half-time position for the following school year because "your full-time teaching service is no longer needed due to the number of students to be enrolled in the Art Program." Although it is unclear when plaintiff accepted a half-time position, her July 1, 1983, request for a full-time position was denied. Plaintiff taught half time during the 1983-84 school year even though a first-year certified teacher was hired to teach art four-sevenths time. During the 1984-85 school year plaintiff once again taught part time while another nontenured employee taught art part time. Although plaintiff was qualified to teach art, it is unclear what plaintiff taught during the 1983-84 and 1984-85 school years.
On March 21, 1985, defendant notified plaintiff that she was not going to be reemployed for the 1985-86 school year. On September 9, 1986, plaintiff filed a complaint against defendant seeking declaratory relief. Specifically, plaintiff alleged that she became a tenured teacher for the 1983-84 school year because the March 24, 1983, notification that she was to be reduced to part-time status did not constitute a notice of dismissal. Consequently, plaintiff alleged that she is entitled to back pay and reinstatement. The circuit court found that the March 24, 1983, notification constituted a proper notice of dismissal to plaintiff and dismissed plaintiff's complaint. Plaintiff appeals from this ruling, putting forth the same arguments which were unsuccessful before the circuit court.
Because we can find no Illinois case which specifically addresses the instant factual scenario, we are confronted with an issue of first impression: whether a teacher who has served her entire probationary period can be dismissed merely by being notified that she will be hired to teach the following year on a part-time basis.
Section 24 -- 11 of the School Code provides in pertinent part:
"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 days before the end of such period. For the purpose of determining contractual continued service, the first probationary year shall be any full time employment from a date before November 1 through the end of the school year. If, however, a teacher has not had one school term of full-time teaching experience before the beginning of such probationary period, the employing board may at its option extend such probationary period for one additional school term by giving the teacher written notice by registered mail at least 60 days before the end of the second school term of the period of 2 consecutive school terms referred to above. Such notice must state the reasons for the one year extension and must outline the corrective actions which the teacher should take to satisfactorily complete probation.
Any full-time teacher who is completing the first year of the probationary period described in the preceding paragraph, or any teacher employed on a full-time basis not later than January 1 of the school term, shall receive written notice from the employing board at least 60 days before the end of any school term whether or not he will be reemployed for the following school term. If the board fails to give such notice, the employee shall be deemed reemployed, and not later than the close of the then current school term the board shall issue a regular contract to the employee as though the board had reemployed him in the usual manner.
Contractual continued service shall continue in effect the terms and provisions of the contract with the teacher during the last school term of the probationary period, subject to this Act and the lawful regulations of the ...