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03/23/95 BOARD EDUCATION ROCKFORD SCHOOL DISTRICT

March 23, 1995

THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF ROCKFORD SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 205, APPELLEE,
v.
THE ILLINOIS EDUCATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD ET AL., APPELLANTS.



Chief Justice Bilandic delivered the opinion of the court:

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bilandic

CHIEF JUSTICE BILANDIC delivered the opinion of the court:

This appeal arises from the direct administrative review of an order of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (Board). The Board determined, inter alia, that the Board of Education of Rockford School District No. 205 (District) had violated section 14(a)(8) and, derivatively, section 14(a)(1) of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1989, ch. 48, pars. 1714(a)(8), (a)(1)), by failing to comply with an arbitration award. The appellate court reversed this portion of the Board's order. (258 Ill. App. 3d 859.) We allowed the petitions for leave to appeal submitted by the Board and the Rockford Education Association (145 Ill. 2d R. 315).

FACTS

On October 25, 1988, Dr. Peter Wehrle (Wehrle), a tenured teacher employed by the District, was involved in a physical altercation with his students. He was subsequently informed by the District that he was suspended. The District, however, offered Wehrle the opportunity for a due process hearing, which was scheduled for November 8, 1988. That hearing was rescheduled at Wehrle's request to November 14, 1988.

On November 14, 1988, Wehrle declined to appear on the advice of counsel pending the resolution of a criminal investigation. The District nevertheless reviewed Wehrle's conduct during the October 25, 1988, incident. The District determined that, although his conduct was cause for dismissal, it was remediable. It therefore issued to Wehrle a formal "notice to remedy" pursuant to section 24-12 of the School Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1989, ch. 122, par. 24-12). In February 1989, Wehrle successfully completed his remediation period.

Shortly thereafter, Wehrle filed a grievance in which he alleged, in relevant part, that the District had violated article 14, section B, of the 1988-89 collective-bargaining agreement, which was in effect at the time of the incident. Article 14, section B, of that agreement (the "just cause" provision) provided that "every staff member has the right to fair and equitable treatment and accordingly shall not be acted against except for just cause." In his grievance, Wehrle sought an order directing cancellation of the "notice to remedy" and removal of all printed materials relating thereto from all District files. The District declined to rescind the "notice to remedy."

On January 5, 1990, Wehrle demanded arbitration of the grievance. The District filed a motion to dismiss the grievance. In its motion, the District asserted its exclusive authority to determine the propriety of the issuance of a "notice to remedy" pursuant to sections 10-22.4 and 24-12 of the School Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1989, ch. 122, pars. 10-22.4, 24-12). The District also contended that its authority was not delegable and therefore the arbitrator was without authority or jurisdiction to issue an award. The arbitrator denied the motion to dismiss.

On June 28, 1990, the arbitrator issued an arbitration award ruling that the District had violated article 14, section B, of the parties' collective-bargaining agreement by not according Wehrle fair and equitable treatment and by acting against him without just cause. The arbitrator directed that the "notice to remedy" be rescinded and all printed material relating to the incident be removed from Wehrle's personnel records.

On September 4, 1990, the District notified Wehrle that the arbitrator's award was void because the arbitrator lacked jurisdiction to hear an arbitration matter regarding the authority of a board of education to issue a "notice to remedy." The District has, therefore, refused to comply with the arbitration award.

On November 7, 1990, the Rockford Education Association (Association) filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Board against the District alleging that the District had violated sections 14(a)(1) and 14(a)(8) of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1989, ch. 48, pars. 1714(a)(1), (a)(8)) by refusing to comply with the arbitration award. After a hearing on the charge, the administrative law judge issued a recommended decision and order. He concluded that the District had not violated section 14(a)(8) and, derivatively, section 14(a)(1) of the Act because the grievance that was the subject of the arbitration was "inarbitrable" under section 10(b) of the Act.

Thereafter, upon filing of exceptions by the Association, the Board issued an order which rejected the administrative law judge's recommendation. The Board held that the arbitration award was not inconsistent with section 10(b) of the Act and was therefore a legally binding award. The Board held that the District violated section 14(a)(8) and, derivatively, section 14(a)(1) of the Act by failing to comply with the arbitrator's award. Ill. Rev. Stat, 1989, ch. 48, pars. 1714(a)(8), (a)(1).

The District and the Association filed petitions for review with the appellate court. The appellate court reversed the Board's decision. (258 Ill. App. 3d 859.) It found the implementation of the "just cause" provision of the collective-bargaining agreement with respect to a "notice to remedy" to be inconsistent and conflicting with sections 10-22.4 and 24-12 of the School Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1989, ch. 122, pars. 10-22.4, 24-12) and, therefore, that the arbitration award violates section 10(b) of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1989, ch. 48, par. 1710(b)). (258 Ill. App. 3d at 871-72.) Consequently the court concluded that the arbitrator's award was not binding and not enforceable.

The court also found that the District had provided Wehrle with the opportunity for a hearing before the District's board of education on the issue of the "notice to remedy." Because Wehrle did not attend the scheduled hearing, he cannot now complain about having no opportunity to challenge the issuance of the "notice to remedy. " (258 Ill. App. 3d at 872.) The court refused to rule on whether the District could rely on the "notice ...


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