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12/04/97 MARY G. KERGER v. BOARD TRUSTEES COMMUNITY

December 4, 1997

MARY G. KERGER, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT NO. 502, COUNTY OF DU PAGE, AND STATE OF ILLINOIS, A/K/A COLLEGE OF DU PAGE, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 96--CH--0280. Honorable Bonnie M. Wheaton, Judge, Presiding. This Opinion Substituted on Denial of Rehearing for Withdrawn Opinion of October 17, 1997, Previously

The Honorable Justice Hutchinson delivered the opinion of the court. Inglis and Bowman, JJ., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hutchinson

The Honorable Justice HUTCHINSON delivered the opinion of the court:

Plaintiff, Mary G. Kerger, appeals from an order dismissing her action against defendant, Board of Trustees of Community College District No. 502, County of Du Page, and State of Illinois, a/k/a College of Du Page. Plaintiff argues that the trial court erred in dismissing her amended complaint pursuant to section 2-615 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Code) (735 ILCS 5/2--615 (West 1994)) and in denying her motion for summary judgment. We affirm.

Plaintiff began teaching courses on business law at defendant's campus in the fall of 1993. She continued to work full time as a "replacement" teacher during the next six semesters. On January 17, 1996, approximately 2 1/2 years into her employment, plaintiff received a notice of dismissal from defendant. The notice stated that the effective date of dismissal was June 11, 1996, pursuant to article III of the Public Community College Act (the Act) (110 ILCS 805/3--1 et seq. (West 1994)).

Plaintiff quickly pursued her remedies under the grievance procedure outlined in the collective bargaining agreement between defendant and the faculty association. Plaintiff requested the reasons for her dismissal, and defendant informed her that she was only hired as a temporary employee and that it had reevaluated the ratio of students to faculty and eliminated a full-time position. Plaintiff filed her grievance. Her first meeting pursuant to the grievance procedure was held on February 12, 1996. Plaintiff chose to bring with her an "advisor/observer," in this case a court reporter who would create a stenographic record of the meeting.

Defendant rejected this stage of the grievance by a written response dated February 23, 1996. Defendant stated that the reasons for plaintiff's dismissal were succinctly stated in the notice of dismissal and that defendant was acting under its inherent management authority. Defendant admitted that plaintiff was not dismissed for reasons of "financial exigency," but was dismissed pursuant to the broad discretion inherently given to defendant.

Plaintiff filed her appeal under the grievance procedure on March 4, 1996. The parties then met for a second meeting. Defendant informed plaintiff that they would not conduct the meeting in the presence of the court reporter that plaintiff had brought as her advisor/observer. plaintiff declared the meeting suspended until the board made a ruling on her right to have a court reporter as her advisor/observer.

Plaintiff filed a complaint in the trial court on March 27, 1996. Plaintiff sought the equitable relief of a permanent mandatory injunction to allow the grievance hearing to be held in the presence of the court reporter. Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint pursuant to section 2--615 of the Code. On July 22, 1996, the trial court granted defendant's motion to dismiss and denied plaintiff's motion to amend the complaint. The trial court later vacated this order and granted plaintiff leave to amend her complaint.

Plaintiff filed her amended complaint on September 3, 1996. This complaint did not seek injunctive relief on the issue of the court reporter, but instead sought declaratory relief on plaintiff's right to continued employment and tenure.

Plaintiff first alleged that defendant did not have a sufficient statutory basis for her dismissal. She noted that defendant did not dismiss her based on performance or financial exigency. Plaintiff also alleged that defendant was not decreasing the number of faculty members or discontinuing any teaching services or programs. Plaintiff interprets section 3B--3 of the Act (110 ILCS 805/3B--3 (West 1994)) to provide that nontenured teachers who are not properly dismissed under either section 3B--3 or 3B--5 will be considered reemployed for the following school year. Plaintiff finally asserts that her reemployment would thus afford her tenure status under section 3B--3.

Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint pursuant to section 2--615 of the Code (735 ILCS 5/2--615 (West 1994)). A hearing was held on this motion on September 26, 1996. The trial court examined the statute and acknowledged that defendant had not complied with every aspect of sections 3B--3 and 3B--5 of the Act. However, the trial court held that defendant acted within its common-law authority and granted its motion to dismiss the amended complaint. Plaintiff subsequently filed a motion for rehearing and a motion for summary judgment. The trial court denied both motions.

The central issue on appeal is rather simple, although not addressed succinctly by either party: whether the trial court erred in granting defendant's section 2--615 motion to dismiss the complaint. To determine the resolution of this issue, we must first evaluate the trial court's application and interpretation of the Act. Plaintiff also asserts that the trial court erred in denying her motion for summary judgment pursuant to section 2--1005 of the Code (735 ILCS 5/2--1005 (West 1994)).

Before addressing the issues in this case, we note plaintiff's use of photocopied reproductions of statutory sections and pages from the record of proceedings within the text of the brief in chief. While the brief is 61 pages in length, it seems likely that the brief would exceed 75 pages if these sections had not been presented in a greatly reduced, dual-column format. Additionally, both parties have used numerous footnotes that contain substantive arguments more properly reserved for the text of the brief. We find this to be a violation of Supreme Court Rule 341 (155 Ill. 2d R. 341). Adherence to the page limitations and guidelines for footnote usage is not an inconsequential matter. See Lagen v. Balcor Co., 274 Ill. App. 3d 11, 14-15, 210 Ill. Dec. 773, 653 N.E.2d 968 (1995). Nor are these limitations and guidelines arbitrary exercises of the supreme court's supervisory powers. 47th & State Currency Exchange, Inc. v. B. Coleman Corp., 56 Ill. App. 3d 229, 232, 13 Ill. Dec. 577, 371 N.E.2d 294 (1977). On the contrary, Rule 341 represents the Illinois Supreme Court's considered opinion of the format ...


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