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January 9, 1995



Presiding Justice Campbell delivered the opinion of the court: Buckley, J., and McCORMICK, J., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Campbell

PRESIDING JUSTICE CAMPBELL delivered the opinion of the court:

Plaintiff, Shoshana Chady, appeals from an order of the circuit court of Cook County dismissing, with prejudice, count II of her wrongful termination lawsuit filed against Solomon Schechter Day Schools, Inc. (Schechter), pursuant to section 2-615 of the Code of Civil Procedure. (735 ILCS 5/2-615 (West 1992).) On appeal, plaintiff contends that the trial court erred in failing to order her reinstatement to the school. For the following reasons, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

The following facts are relevant to this appeal. Schechter is a not-for-profit Illinois corporation which operates private, secular, elementary schools in Skokie and Northbrook, Illinois. In September 1969, plaintiff began continuous employment as an elementary school teacher of third grade Hebrew studies at Schechter pursuant to an oral agreement. On or about April 19, 1976, plaintiff became a tenured teacher, and she continued as a tenured teacher until the date of her discharge.

Schechter's Code of Practice (Code of Practice), effective June 30, 1980, provides as follows:

"Even after tenure is acquired, any teacher may be discharged for inefficiency, incompetency, physical or mental disability, neglect of duty, disloyalty, insubordination, unauthorized absences, loss of certification, intentional failure to comply with the terms of this Code or conduct detrimental to the School."

The Code of Practice further provides that a discharged tenure teacher is entitled to a hearing before the Personnel Committee of the Board of Directors (Committee), at which time the teacher may reply to such charges. The Committee then renders a written decision. If the teacher is dissatisfied with the decision of the Committee, he or she may request a hearing before the Board of Directors (Directors). The Code of Practice provides that the decision of the Directors is final.

Schechter discharged plaintiff on April 19, 1991, for allegedly misrepresenting the reasons she returned late from a trip to Israel at the beginning of the 1990-1991 school year, citing a violation of the "cause" provisions enumerated in the Code of Practice. The record reveals that the Committee conducted a hearing as required by the Code of Practice. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Committee upheld plaintiff's discharge. Plaintiff appealed the Committee's decision to the Directors pursuant to the Code of Practice, and following a hearing, the Directors affirmed the decision of the Committee.

Plaintiff filed her original complaint for wrongful termination on January 9, 1992, and her first amended complaint on October 5, 1992. In count I of her amended complaint, plaintiff charged Schechter with breach of contract for terminating her contrary to the provisions of the Code of Practice. In count II, plaintiff demanded specific performance in the form of reinstatement of her teaching position as a remedy for the alleged wrongful termination. Count III, which is not at issue before this court, contains allegations of defamation.

Schechter filed a motion to dismiss counts I and II of plaintiff's complaint. A hearing on Schechter's motion commenced on February 3, 1993, at which time Schechter argued that public policy prohibited the court from ordering Schechter, a private school, to reinstate plaintiff as a remedy for alleged breach of employment contract. The trial court ruled that plaintiff had no statutory entitlement to reinstatement of her position where no statute regulates private schools. At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court entered an order dismissing count II of plaintiff's amended complaint with prejudice.

On February 16, 1993, the trial court entered an order finding no just reason to delay enforcement or appeal of the judgment of the February 3, 1993, order pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 304(a). Plaintiff's timely appeal followed. *fn1

The issue before this court is whether the trial court has the authority to order reinstatement of an employee in a private school as a remedy for alleged breach of contract.

Relying on Duldulao v. St. Mary of Nazareth Hospital Center (1987), 115 Ill. 2d 482, 505 N.E.2d 314, 106 Ill. Dec. 8, and Land v. Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center (1987), 153 Ill. App. 3d 465, 505 N.E.2d 1261, 106 Ill. Dec. 470, plaintiff initially argues that reinstatement is an appropriate remedy where an employee manual creates a binding contract. Plaintiff further argues that her reinstatement is consistent with public policy which ...

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