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04/13/94 DALE P. OWEN v. BOARD EDUCATION KANKAKEE

April 13, 1994

DALE P. OWEN, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF KANKAKEE SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 111, RESPONDENT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 22nd Judicial Circuit, Kankakee County, Illinois. No. 93-MR-152. Honorable Wayne P. Dyer, Judge, Presiding.

Released for Publication May 19, 1994.

Present - Honorable Allan L. Stouder, Justice, Honorable Tom M. Lytton, Justice, Honorable Michael P. Mccuskey, Justice

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lytton

JUSTICE LYTTON delivered the opinion of the court:

This appeal presents the issue of whether plaintiff's claim for reinstatement as an assistant principal was improperly dismissed by the circuit court of Kankakee County. For the reasons stated below, we reverse and remand.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, Dale Owen, is a certified tenured teacher who has been continuously employed by defendant, Board of Education of Kankakee School District No. 111 (Board) since 1962. During the period of the 1973-74 school year through the 1985-86 school year, plaintiff was assigned by the Board to several administrative positions. Specifically, plaintiff was assigned as an assistant principal from 1974 to 1981, and as a dean of students from 1981 to 1986.

In 1975, plaintiff built his home in Bourbonnais, approximately 2.5 miles outside of the school district's boundaries. In 1977, the Board adopted a residency policy which has been amended periodically. The policy currently reads as follows:

"Any administrator hired after September 24, 1979, shall reside within the geographical boundaries of the Kankakee School District within 120 days of the first work day.

Any such person who does not comply within 120 days or who moves his residence outside the geographical boundaries of the Kankakee School District shall have automatically terminated his appointment."

After the 1985-86 school year, plaintiff was reassigned to teaching. He taught from the 1986-87 school year through the 1991-92 school year. Plaintiff applied for and received a promotion to assistant principal for the 1992-93 school year. However, his promotion was expressly conditioned upon becoming a resident of the school district. Plaintiff actively sought to purchase housing within the district during the 1992-93 school year, but was unsuccessful. Sometime in the winter of 1992-93, the superintendent of schools, Arvid Nelson, told plaintiff that if he were to produce a lease showing residence within the district by April 1, 1993, it would satisfy the residency requirement. Plaintiff was aware of at least six other administrative employees of the Board who did not actually live within the district.

In March 1993, plaintiff entered into a lease for an apartment located within the school district. He submitted a copy of the lease to the Board's personnel director as proof of residency. Although his immediate supervisor and the superintendent recommended that plaintiff remain as assistant principal for the following 1993-94 school year, the Board voted against retaining plaintiff as assistant principal. As a result of the Board's actions, plaintiff was assigned to teach for the 1993-94 school year. The superintendent told plaintiff that the sole reason why he was not retained as assistant principal was because he did not reside in the district.

Plaintiff filed a three-count complaint requesting, among other things, reinstatement as an assistant principal. Count I of the complaint was for mandamus; count II requested injunctive relief; count III alleged a violation of 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 (1993). The Board moved for and ...


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