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03/30/89 Jo Ann Fisher, v. Board of Education of West

March 30, 1989

JO ANN FISHER, PETITIONER-APPELLANT

v.

BOARD OF EDUCATION OF WEST WASHINGTON COUNTY COMMUNITY UNIT, RESPONDENT-APPELLEE NO. 5-87-0816



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIFTH DISTRICT

537 N.E.2d 354, 181 Ill. App. 3d 653, 130 Ill. Dec. 287 1989.IL.445

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Washington County; the Hon. Lloyd A. Karmeier, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE LEWIS delivered the opinion of the court. WELCH, P.J., and HARRISON, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE LEWIS

Petitioner, Jo Ann Fisher, a teacher for respondent, Board of Education of West Washington County Community Unit District No. 10, filed a petition for writ of mandamus, requesting that the circuit court order respondent to reinstate her after taking a leave of absence. Both respondent and petitioner filed motions for summary judgment, and on August 5, 1987, arguments on both parties' motions were heard. The circuit court took the matter under advisement and on November 12, 1987, entered a written order in which it granted respondent's motion but denied petitioner's motion for summary judgment. Petitioner appeals.

The facts of this case are undisputed. Petitioner had been employed as a full-time teacher by respondent since 1972 and had attained contractual continued service status. On August 16, 1984, approximately nine days prior to the beginning of the school term, petitioner hand-delivered a letter to the principal and the superintendent of schools of respondent, in which she requested a one year's leave of absence for the 1984-85 school term. Her reason for requesting the leave of absence was because in June 1984 her doctor had stated that "job related stresses may be contributing to the unexplainable infertility" problems which she and her husband had been experiencing.

Although petitioner's request was not timely, her letter was considered at respondent's school board meeting on August 16, 1984. Petitioner did not attend this meeting. At that meeting, the following resolution was passed by the school board:

"Mrs. Jo Ann Fisher's request for a year leave of absence while not mutually agreeable to the Board of Education and said teacher (section 24 -- 13) and to avoid any penalty to said teacher (section 24 -- 14) the teacher's request for a one year leave of absence is granted with the following conditions: there shall be no guarantee of return to employment in District No. 10 following the one year leave of absence; should employment in District No. 10 resume after the year leave of absence no credit for experience will be granted or credited during the leave of absence; the granting of the leave of absence shall fulfill requirement of Teacher Retirement System for experience credit if the employee chooses to make the contribution to the Retirement System; insurance coverage by District No. 10 shall cease as of September 1, 1984." (Emphasis added.)

Petitioner was advised of the school board's action by a letter dated August 17, 1984, from the superintendent of schools in which the aforementioned resolution was completely quoted.

Petitioner talked to the principal and the superintendent by telephone the day after the school board meeting. The principal advised her that the school board had granted her leave of absence but that he did not know the conditions of the leave and that she should discuss this with the superintendent. The superintendent told her that she would be receiving a letter in which the school board's action was stated but he mentioned to her that there was no guarantee of employment for her after the leave of absence.

Petitioner received the superintendent's letter early the following week. After receipt of the superintendent's letter, petitioner called the superintendent and advised him that she was going to take the leave of absence. Petitioner questioned the superintendent regarding her right to retain her insurance coverage and inquired about her retirement, but she did not discuss with him the other conditions imposed by the school board.

Thereafter, within the first days of the 1984-85 school term, petitioner came to the school but for the sole purpose of removing her personal belongings. She did not ask to teach nor did she present herself as willing to teach. A ...


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