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06/28/96 ALISON JACKSON v. COOK COUNTY REGIONAL

June 28, 1996

ALISON JACKSON, ROBIN CRUSE HANDIBODE, PAMELA GRANT, KIMBERLY A. COSIMO, FRANK COSIMO, DON W. SMITH, VIRGINIA A. TEPPER, VELVIN JACKSON, LISA K. COONS AND LAWRENCE W. COONS, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
COOK COUNTY REGIONAL BOARD OF SCHOOL TRUSTEES, PROVISO TOWNSHIP SCHOOL TRUSTEES, AND BOARD OF EDUCATION OF PROVISO TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 209, COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES, AND BOARD OF EDUCATION OF RIVERSIDE-BROOKFIELD TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 208, PLAINTIFF-INTERVENOR-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Lester D. Foreman, Judge Presiding.

Released for Publication August 13, 1996.

The Honorable Justice Buckley delivered the opinion of the court: Campbell, P.j. and Braden, J., concurring.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Buckley

JUSTICE BUCKLEY delivered the opinion of the court:

Plaintiffs, Alison Jackson, Robin Cruse Handibode, Pamela Grant, Kimberly A. Cosimo, Frank Cosimo, Don W. Smith, Virginia A. Tepper, Velvin Jackson, Lisa K. Coons, and Lawrence W. Coons, and plaintiff-intervenor, Board of Education of Riverside-Brookfield Township High School District No. 208 (Riverside-Brookfield), appeal the circuit court's denial of plaintiffs' petition for administrative review of a decision of defendant, the Cook County Regional Board of School Trustees (Regional Board). The Regional Board denied plaintiffs' petition for detachment from Proviso Township High School District No. 209 and annexation to Riverside-Brookfield High School District No. 208.

On appeal plaintiffs and Riverside-Brookfield argue: (1) the case should be remanded to the circuit court to determine the applicability of section 7-2b of the School Code (105 ILCS 5/7-2b (West 1992)), and (2) the "recusal" of one Regional Board member present at the Regional Board meeting should be counted with the majority vote in favor of annexation. We affirm.

BACKGROUND

On March 4, 1992, a number of citizens living within Proviso Township filed a petition with the Regional Board to detach the territory in which they lived from Proviso Township High School District No. 209 (Proviso), and annex it to Riverside-Brookfield. Evidence was presented and exhibits were received by the Regional Board on July 20, 29, and 30, 1992.

On July 30, 1992, the Regional Board prepared to vote. Two of the seven elected members were absent. One member, Arthur Kay, stated prior to the vote that he would "recuse" himself from voting because he had not been present at all of the hearings and had not read the transcripts. The Regional Board then voted three to one in favor of granting the petition. The Regional Board issued a ruling denying the petition because it failed to be approved by a majority of the Regional Board, or four votes. The order stated that Kay had "disqualified" himself from voting.

Plaintiffs filed their complaint for administrative review and presented two issues to the circuit court. Riverside-Brookfield did not participate in the proceeding before the Regional Board, but intervened in the circuit court suit for the purpose of seeking a determination of its legal obligations. The circuit court first addressed the issue of the effect of Kay's disqualification from voting. After a full and independent hearing on this matter, the court determined that Kay's nonaction did not have the legal effect of a vote being cast. The circuit court determined that section 6-18 of the School Code (105 ILCS 5/6-18 (West 1992)) required that the petition receive the affirmative vote of at least four trustees and that the "recusal" of a quasi-judicial officer did not effect the Regional Board's decision to deny the petition.

The second issue addressed by the court was whether the Regional Board's decision to deny the petition pursuant to section 7-1 of the School Code (105 ILCS 5/7-1 (West 1992)) was against the manifest weight of the evidence. The circuit court determined that it was not and denied plaintiffs' petition for administrative review. This appeal followed.

ARGUMENT(S)

I. Section 7-2b

On appeal, plaintiffs and Riverside-Brookfield do not challenge the circuit court's determination that the Regional Board's decision, pursuant to section 7-1 of the School Code (105 ILCS 5/7-1 (West 1992)), was not against the manifest weight of the evidence. Rather, they argue that section 7-2b applies. 105 ILCS 5/7-2b (West 1992). Section 7-1 provides that school district ...


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