APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, THIRD DISTRICT
521 N.E.2d 153, 167 Ill. App. 3d 224, 118 Ill. Dec. 85 1988.IL.323
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Rock Island County; the Hon. John M. Telleen, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE SCOTT delivered the opinion of the court. HEIPLE and STOUDER, JJ., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE SCOTT
The plaintiff, Bonnie Ballard, appeals from a judgment order entered by the circuit court of Rock Island County which held she failed to establish her right to a full-time teaching position during the 1983-84 school term and which denied her request for monetary damages from the defendant, the Board of Education of the Rock Island School District No. 41 (hereinafter Board). Ballard maintains that the trial court erred in finding there was no vacancy in the position teaching general business and cooperative work training to which she should have been appointed and in concluding that the Board did not abuse its discretion when it assigned a colleague with greater seniority, but with fewer semester hours of the State Board of Education required course work, to teach those subjects.
In February 1985, this court reversed the trial court's grant of summary judgment to the Board and held that Ballard was not required to arbitrate her dispute before instituting an action in the circuit court. We then remanded the cause for further proceedings and it is from these proceedings that Ballard brings the instant appeal. Ballard v. Board of Education (1986), 141 Ill. App. 3d 24, 489 N.E.2d 896.
Bonnie Ballard was a tenured teacher and chairman of the business department at Rock Island High School during the 1982-83 school term. Ballard taught courses in typing and office occupations, and served as the occupational co-op coordinator. In the spring of 1983, the Board honorably dismissed Ballard and terminated her position. A tenured colleague, Don DeVinney, who had more seniority than Ballard, was not dismissed but was assigned to teach the general business and cooperative work training courses during the 1983-84 term. The Board thereafter hired Ballard to teach part time during the 1983-84 school term.
The Illinois State Board of Education conducted an audit of the Rock Island School District in the fall of 1983, and determined that several teachers, including DeVinney, were not qualified to teach the courses they were assigned. DeVinney was initially determined to lack the required 24 semester hours of course work qualifying him to teach general business and cooperative work training, but was thereafter credited with 12 hours of prior course work, following which he submitted a plan to complete the remaining required hours. After receiving the State Board's report, the Board allowed DeVinney to take the additional course work and he continued to teach the general business and cooperative work training courses during the school term.
In August of 1984, Ballard filed suit seeking monetary damages stemming from her reduction to part-time teaching status during the 1983-84 school term. The Board thereafter requested the State Board review her credentials to determine if she were qualified to teach general business or cooperative work training. The State Board determined that Ballard also was unqualified and would need to complete additional required course work to become qualified to teach general business. To be qualified to teach cooperative work training, it was determined she would need to complete a workshop and obtain certification from the Board that she had 2,000 hours of documented nonteaching work experience, in addition to completing additional course work.
Following a hearing on the merits, the circuit court issued an opinion and entered judgment in favor of the Board finding, inter alia, that: (1) neither DeVinney nor Ballard was qualified under the State Board of Education requirements to teach general business and cooperative work training during the 1983-84 school term; (2) there was no vacancy in the teaching assignment for these courses during this term to which Ballard was entitled to be appointed as DeVinney was assigned to that position during the term; (3) there was no evidence the Board knew DeVinney was unqualified pursuant to State Board requirements or that the Board flaunted the law when it made the appointment; and (4) there was no evidence DeVinney was unqualified per se to teach the courses. The trial court reasoned that given the State Board of Education does not require discharge of a teacher found to be unqualified due to course work deficiencies, and given DeVinney was not discharged by the local Board, there existed no vacancy to which Ballard could be entitled to be recalled.
Two issues are presented for our review: (1) whether the position to which DeVinney was assigned became vacant by operation of law when it was discovered he did not meet the course work requirements qualifying him to teach general business and cooperative work training, and (2) whether the Board abused its discretion when it assigned DeVinney to the position teaching these courses when he was less qualified than Ballard in terms of completed course work requirements mandated by the State Board of Education.
"If a teacher in contractual continued service is removed or dismissed as a result of a decision of the board to decrease the number of teachers employed . . ., the teacher or teachers with the shorter length of continuing service with the district shall be dismissed first . . .. If the Board has any vacancies for the following school term or within one calendar year from the beginning of the following school term, the positions thereby becoming available shall be tendered to the teachers so removed or dismissed so far as they are legally qualified to hold such positions." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 122, par. 24-12.)
It is well settled that section 24 -- 12 was enacted to provide job security to tenured teachers by granting them priority for retention over non-tenured teachers, and priority over tenured teachers with fewer years of continuing service, when reductions in programs and teaching staff are made by local boards of education. (Birk v. Board of Education (1984), 104 Ill. 2d 252, 472 N.E.2d 407; Johnson v. Board of Education (1981), 85 Ill. 2d 338, 423 N.E.2d 903.) Section 24 -- 12 further assures employment security for teachers by providing that honorably dismissed teachers will be ...