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04/19/89 Nancy Lewis, v. Board of Education of

April 19, 1989





537 N.E.2d 435, 181 Ill. App. 3d 689, 130 Ill. Dec. 368 1989.IL.549

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Clay County; the Hon. Dennis L. Berkbigler, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE GOLDENHERSH delivered the opinion of the court. CHAPMAN and RARICK, JJ., concur.


Defendant, Board of Education of North Clay Community Unit School District No. 25, appeals from a declaratory judgment entered by the circuit court of Clay County entitling plaintiff, Nancy Lewis, to resign her position as the girls' volleyball coach but to continue teaching as a full-time teacher. The court did not award money damages and no cross-appeal was filed on that claim. Defendant raises the following issues on appeal: (1) whether defendant abused its discretion when it assigned extracurricular activities to plaintiff for the 1986-87 school year, and (2) whether the trial court properly admitted parol evidence to explain the language in the contract regarding assignments. This court affirms.

On August 19, 1986, plaintiff filed a declaratory judgment seeking the circuit court to "enter an order declaring the rights of the parties and declaring that the plaintiff be allowed to resign her position as the High School Volleyball Coach and to retain her position as a full time teacher."

On May 11, 1987, the court held a hearing on the motion. Plaintiff presented the following evidence. Plaintiff stated that she was employed by defendant in the fall of 1977 to teach physical education and health for six class periods. She taught approximately 150 students.

During the 1977-78 school term, she not only taught six classes but was also assigned to be the volleyball coach, cheerleading coach, pep club sponsor and GAA (Girls' Athletic Association) sponsor. As cheerleading sponsor, she was responsible for selecting the girls, ordering the uniforms, setting up for practice, attending each ball game and riding on the fan bus. Pep club sponsor was intertwined with the responsibilities as cheerleading sponsor. As a cheerleading sponsor, plaintiff had to attend 20 to 25 boys' basketball games and attend cheerleading practice one to two hours per evening.

As volleyball coach, plaintiff was required to start prior to the season to schedule games and officials. She would receive the Illinois High School Association rules and attend IHSA-sponsored rules interpretation meetings. Before the school term started she would hold practice sessions for two- to three-hour sessions five days a week. Plaintiff was in charge of these sessions and did not have an assistant coach for help. To coach volleyball, she expended 240 to 250 hours and was given $800 in compensation.

When school started, the practice sessions would be after school on nongame days for an hour and a half. The volleyball season lasted 11 weeks, which included 16 to 18 games and two to three tournaments for an approximate total of 25 games. Each game day lasted 4 1/2 to 5 hours. About half of the games were away and required traveling 7 to 50 miles to the other school. For at least five nights a week, plaintiff had coaching responsibilities.

On a typical school day during volleyball season, she would be at school by 8 a.m. and would teach her classes. When school was dismissed at 3:20, she would then set up volleyball nets, get the balls and prepare for practice, which lasted until 5 p.m. After practice ended, she would allow the girls 15 to 30 minutes to gather their things and wait for their rides home. Plaintiff did not leave until all the girls had left. Eventually plaintiff would get home around 6 p.m. At home, she had books to read and papers to grade for her classes.

On the day of a game, when school was dismissed, she was required to stay until 3:40 p.m. When she left, she had to pick up her son, take a shower, eat dinner, spend some time with her family and then leave. She was back at the school between 5 and 5:30 p.m. After an organized practice session, the game would start at 6:30 and last two to three hours. After the games, she was responsible for the equipment, for the statistics, and waiting for the girls to leave. She arrived home at 9:30 or 10 p.m., but then had to wait to talk to the newspaper and report the game statistics.

When plaintiff accepted the cheerleading and volleyball coaching position, she did not have any expertise in either activity. She learned volleyball by reading the IHSA rules book and attending the preseason rules meeting.

On cross-examination, she stated that she had two courses in volleyball while at college and another course in playing softball and volleyball. She did have an offer of an assistant but she refused because the person would not want to do it.

In 1978-79, plaintiff was assigned the same extracurricular activities. By the end of the year, she resigned as cheerleading and pep club sponsor because it worked an extreme hardship on her and the girls deserved better. Plaintiff was allowed to resign and was not required to find a replacement prior to resigning. The school librarian and history teacher was assigned those activities.

However, during the 1979-80 school term, plaintiff was not only assigned as volleyball coach, but also softball coach. Plaintiff did not recall volunteering for the assignment.

Plaintiff had no special expertise in the area of softball. As softball coach she was again responsible for scheduling games and umpires. She read the current year's rules book and attended the IHSA-sponsored rules meeting. She also prepared the play field for practice or games. The softball season was approximately 10 to 12 weeks with 11 to 12 games plus the regional tournaments. As coach, she ordered uniforms and equipment. She also hauled the equipment to and from the field, supervised and organized practice sessions, coached during the games and attended the Midland Trail Conference meetings. Before the season started, she held softball practice sessions five days a week after school. During the season, for five days a week she was either at a game or at practice. About half of the games are away, ranging from 7 to 50 miles in distance. She expended a total of 100 hours per season for $550 in compensation.

Out of the 36 weeks of the school term, plaintiff devoted 20 to 22 weeks to coaching responsibilities. Plaintiff stated that coaching took a great toll on her marriage and her responsibilities to her son. The only qualification plaintiff understood as necessary for the positions as coach was the willingness to put in the time required to coach the sport. During the 1980-81 school term, she was assigned to coach volleyball and softball. After the 1980-81 school term, plaintiff resigned her position as softball coach. She was not required to find a replacement. Defendant assigned Colleen Webb, the special education teacher, to the position.

During the 1981-82 school term, plaintiff was volleyball coach and freshman class sponsor. As freshman class sponsor, she was involved with fundraisers and all responsibilities associated with that activity.

During the 1982-83 school term, she was volleyball coach and sophomore class sponsor. As sophomore class sponsor, she was involved with fundraisers, monthly meetings and class parties.

During the 1983-84 school term, she was assigned as volleyball coach and junior class sponsor. As junior class sponsor, she was again involved with fundraisers to pay for the prom and the senior trip. As sponsor, she had to attend all home ball games in order to supervise the students while they sold cake and candy and to account for the money. She was also involved ...

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