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10/25/89 In Re Special Education of Steven Walker (Steven Walker Et

October 25, 1989

IN RE SPECIAL EDUCATION OF STEVEN WALKER (STEVEN WALKER ET


SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS

al., Appellees, v.

Joseph Cronin, Appellant)

546 N.E.2d 520, 131 Ill. 2d 300, 137 Ill. Dec. 575 1989.IL.1689

Appeal from the Appellate Court for the First District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. Albert S. Porter, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE WARD delivered the opinion of the court. JUSTICE CALVO took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE WARD

The plaintiff, Steven Walker, a minor, by his mother, brought suit against the defendant, Joseph Cronin, the Director of the Board of Education (the Director), in the circuit court of Cook County after he was denied placement in a special education program. The circuit court found that the Board improperly denied Steven placement and awarded money damages for future costs of attendance at a residential school and to reimburse Steven's mother for the past costs of his attendance at the school. The appellate court affirmed. (107 Ill. App. 3d 1053.) The money portion of the judgment was not promptly paid and the plaintiff sought post-judgment interest under section 2-1303 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 110, par. 2-1303). The circuit court awarded the Walkers interest on the judgment and the appellate court affirmed the award, but modified the amount. (165 Ill. App. 3d 846.) This court granted the defendant's petition for leave to appeal (107 Ill. 2d R. 315).

Upon the Walkers' suit for expenses, the circuit court set aside the Board of Education's denial of the Walkers' request to place Steven in a residential special educational program facility pursuant to article VIII, section 8.01, of the rules and regulations which govern the

Finding that public schools could not adequately meet Steven's educational needs and that Steven was, therefore, wrongfully denied placement (see Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 122, par. 14-8.02), the circuit court awarded the Walkers $39,334.49 as reimbursement for tuition and other expenses at the residential school between November 9, 1978, and April 22, 1981. Several months after the Walkers had submitted a verification of the school expenses, they remained unpaid. The Walkers then filed a motion to direct the State to make payment and sought an order granting interest on the judgment pursuant to section 2-1303. The Walkers were awarded statutory interest of 6% on the judgment for a total amount of $5,310. The appellate court, with one Justice Dissenting, held that section 2-1303 allows for the imposition of post-judgment interest against the State and affirmed the award, modifying it to reflect a different date upon which interest began to accrue.

The Director of the Board of Education on this appeal argues that the appellate court erroneously construed section 2 -- 1303 as authorizing the imposition of post-judgment interest against the State. The section provides:

"Judgments recovered in any court shall draw interest at the rate of 9% per annum from the date of the judgment until satisfied or 6% per annum when the judgment debtor is a unit of local government, as defined in Section 1 of Article VII of the Constitution, a school district, a community college district, or any other governmental entity." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 110, par. 2-1303.

Our constitution provides for the abolition of sovereign immunity in article XIII, section 4. It states: "Except as the General Assembly may provide by law, sovereign immunity in this State is abolished." (Ill. Const. 1970, art. XIII, § 4.) The General Assembly has, however, restored immunity to the State. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 127, par. 801.) Although the State has immunity, the legislature may, by statute, consent to liability of the State. The State's consent must be, however, "clear and unequivocal." Martin v. Giordano (1983), 115 Ill. App. 3d 367, 369 (citing Department of Revenue v. Appellate Court (1977), 67 Ill. 2d 392, and City of Springfield v. Allphin (1980), 82 Ill. 2d 571).

The Director argues that the appellate court erred in judging that the language "any other governmental entity" in section 2 -- 1303 was intended by the legislature as a waiver of the State's immunity so as to allow the imposition of post-judgment interest against the State. The Director contends that section 2 -- 1303 does not contain the necessary authorization for such a waiver, because it does not specifically and in ...


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