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Chigago Teachers Union, Local 1 v. Chicago School Reform Board of Trustees

March 12, 2003


Petition for Review of an Opinion and Order of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. IELRB No. 99 CA 0065C

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Wolfson


The issue in this case is whether the transfer of a teacher from a permanent position to a reassigned teachers pool is a matter of "class staffing and assignment" as used in section 4.5(a)(4) of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, 115 ILCS 5/1 et seq. (West 2000) (the Act).

The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB) concluded the decision to transfer a teacher to the reassigned teacher pool is a matter of "class staffing and assignment." According to the IELRB, such a decision is a prohibited subject of collective bargaining under the Act and not subject to arbitration under section 4.5(a)(4). 115 ILCS 5/4.5(a)(4) (West 2000).

We disagree. We reverse the IELRB's decision and remand for further proceedings.


In 1997, Tyrone Greer was employed by the Chicago School Reform Board of Trustees, now known as the Chicago Board of Education (Board of Education). He was assigned to teach English at South Shore High School. He was first assigned to South Shore in 1990, and had been employed by the Board of Education for about ten years. His last day at South Shore was June 25, 1997.

In July, he called the teacher personnel office and learned that the principal of South Shore had closed Greer's position on June 30, 1997. When Greer reported to South Shore on August 26, 1997, the principal told Greer he had no "position number" for Greer and that Greer had to report to the Board of Education. When he did so, Greer learned he had become a "reassigned teacher," that is, a member of the reassigned teachers pool. Greer also received a letter from the Director of Human Resources stating Greer was a reassigned teacher effective August 26, 1997, pursuant to the Board of Education's reassigned teacher policy.

Section 5 of the Policy Regarding Reassignment and Layoff of Regularly Certified and Appointed Teachers (the Policy) states that a reassigned teacher is not assigned any additional duties for the first 30 days after reassignment. During this time, the reassigned teacher may interview for positions at other schools. Under Section 9, if the reassigned teacher has not found a position within the initial 30-day period, he is assigned to a "Region" as a day-to-day substitute teacher. One day a week, he is permitted to interview at schools for a permanent position. Under Section 10, if after ten months of reassignment the teacher is unable to secure a permanent position, the teacher will be given an "honorable termination."

On September 9, 1997, the Union initiated a grievance on behalf of Greer. The Union said Greer contended his displacement violated section 2 of the Policy and Articles 3 and 42 of the collective bargaining agreement between the Board of Education and the Union because teachers with less seniority remained employed at South Shore.

Article 42 describes the policies and procedures applicable to the transfers of teachers. *fn1 Article 3 of the collective bargaining agreement incorporates violations of the Policy into the agreement by defining a "grievance" in relevant part as: "a complaint involving a work situation or a complaint that there has been a deviation from, misinterpretation of, or misapplication of a practice or policy ***." (Emphasis added.)

The pertinent portions of the Policy read:

"Section 1 - Scope of Policy

Whenever an attendance center or a program is closed, there is a drop in enrollment, the educational focus of the attendance center is changed such that available teaching positions cannot accommodate some or all current regularly certified and appointed teaching staff, or when an attendance center is subject to actions taken as a result of remediation, probation, reconstitution or educational crisis, such staff will be reassigned or laid off in accordance with this policy.

Section 2 - Selection of Teachers for Removal

A. In Attendance Centers/Programs That Are Not Subject to Reconstitution

If changes in an attendance center or program require removal of some but not all teachers, teachers with appropriate certifications will be selected for retention based on seniority. Provisionals, Day-to-Day substitutes, Cadre substitutes, FTBs and Probationary teachers within the attendance center or program will be removed before any regularly certified and appointed teachers with the appropriate certification is removed, in that order. Within each group, system-wide seniority shall be the determining factor."

When the Union was unable to resolve the grievance directly with the Board of Education, the Union demanded arbitration under the collective bargaining agreement.

The Arbitration

At the arbitration hearing, Greer testified about his reassignment. He also testified that at least one of the teachers that remained at South Shore and taught English had less seniority than Greer.

In its post-hearing brief, the Board of Education contended Greer's grievance was "solely a dispute over . . . staffing and assignment." *fn2 The Board of Education said that under section 4.5(a)(4) of the Act, class staffing and assignment are prohibited subjects of bargaining and arbitration. 115 ILCS 5/4.5(a)(4) (West 2000). The Board of Education also contended the Union had failed to prove any violation of the collective bargaining agreement.

On March 9, 1999, the arbitrator issued an Opinion and Award. In the Opinion and Award, he deferred the issue of statutory inarbitrability to the IELRB.

In addressing the merits, the arbitrator noted the Policy required the removal of certain classifications of teachers, such as FTBs (that is, full-time-basis substitutes), before any certified and appointed teachers with the appropriate certifications are removed. Greer was a certified and appointed teacher teaching English during the 1996-97 school year. Carol Moran, an FTB, taught English at South Shore during the 1996-97 school year and continued teaching English during the 1997-98 school year.

The arbitrator concluded Greer's removal from South Shore while Moran remained constituted a violation of the Policy. The arbitrator ordered Greer restored to the status he enjoyed prior to removal, reinstated to a position as an English teacher at South Shore, and ...

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