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02/23/88 Charles Felle, v. the Metropolitan Sanitary

February 23, 1988





520 N.E.2d 1012, 167 Ill. App. 3d 121, 117 Ill. Dec. 661 1988.IL.252

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Sophia H. Hall, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE SCARIANO delivered the opinion of the court. HARTMAN, P.J., and BILANDIC, J., concur.


Charles Felle filed a complaint before the Metropolitan Sanitary District's Civil Service Board (Board) which sought review of its February 28, 1985, civil service examination for the position of security guard lieutenant. On October 22, 1985, after a hearing, the Board upheld the validity of the examination and dismissed Felle's complaint.

Thereafter Felle filed a complaint in circuit court against the Board and its director of personnel, Donald R. Morrison, seeking review of the Board's decision and declaratory relief barring the two candidates who took the test and were appointed security guard lieutenants from remaining in those positions. On March 25, 1987, the trial court issued an order wherein it reversed the Board's decision, and granted the relief sought by Felle. The Board and Morrison appeal from that order.

The Metropolitan Sanitary District of Greater Chicago was organized by "An Act to create sanitary districts . . ." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 42, par. 320 et seq.), which governs its employment procedures for civil service employees (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 42, par. 323.7), and also mandates the process for administering promotional examinations. On February 28, 1985, the appellants gave an oral examination for the position of security guard lieutenant, and Felle, who had served for the preceding three years in the position for which he was being tested, took the exam along with a group of other eligible candidates.

On March 1, 1985, Felle was notified by mail that he did not pass the examination. After Morrison denied Felle's challenge to the validity of the exam, he appealed to the Board, which held a hearing at which all parties were represented by counsel.

Robert Pyskacek, senior personnel analyst, in testifying as to the nature of the examination, stated that he prepared a job analysis, and aided by several experts, he devised 10 questions for the test. The candidates were asked the questions by a four-member panel of outside experts who were briefed by Pyskacek prior to the examination. He informed them that they should test for "knowledge of security principles and practices, knowledge of law enforcement, knowledge of supervision, administrative and management, and oral communications." Pyskacek also testified that he told the panel to spend approximately 45 minutes with each candidate, and they were to ask some, but not necessarily all, of the 10 proposed questions. The examiners were permitted to ask the questions in any order they chose, but they were not required to use the same questions with each candidate.

Pyskacek also testified that he instructed the panelists that an overall score of 70 was passing, and that they could go up to 100 in their scoring. He noted that the grading sheets indicated 70 was a passing score, and that the sheets also listed the four categories upon which the candidates were to be graded. Finally, he asked the testers to make comments about the candidates on the scoring sheets.

Pyskacek's instructions were based upon the District's Personnel Rule 6.56, which provided as follows:

"Numerical ratings shall be assigned in accordance with a predefined scale, in which the score of seventy (70), or its equivalent, is assigned to a candidate who is barely acceptable . . .. For each candidate whose average score of all examiners combined is less than seventy (70) and who fails the examination therefore, the Oral Board shall prepare a statement of its reasons for finding that this candidate is less than acceptable."

Rudolph E. Nimocks, chief of the organized crime division of the Chicago police department and one of the examiners, corroborated Pyskacek's testimony about the structure of the examination. The other examiner who testified was Thomas W. Cernock, chief of police for the Village of North Riverside, whose testimony consisted primarily of a Discussion of ...

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