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Chicago Teachers Union, Local No. 1, American Federation of Teachers v. the Board of Education of the City of Chicago et al

February 17, 2012

CHICAGO TEACHERS UNION, LOCAL NO. 1, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS, APPELLEE,
v.
THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO ET AL., APPELLANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Freeman

JUSTICE FREEMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

Justices Thomas, Garman, Karmeier, and Burke concurred in the judgment and opinion.

Justice Theis dissented, with opinion, joined by Chief Justice Kilbride.

OPINION

¶ 1 This court accepted certified questions of law from the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Ill. S. Ct. R. 20 (eff. Aug. 1, 1992). The court of appeals asks whether sections 34-18 (31) and 34-84 of the School Code (105 ILCS 5/34-18(31), 34-84 (West 2010)) "give laid-off tenured teachers either (1) the right to be rehired after an economic layoff, or (2) the right to certain procedures during the rehiring process? If so, what is the scope of that right?" We conclude that sections 34-18(31) and 34-84 do not confer these rights.

¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

¶ 3 The Board of Education of the City of Chicago (Board) exercises "general supervision and jurisdiction over the *** [Chicago] public school system." 105 ILCS 5/34-18 (West 2010). The right to employ, discharge, and layoff teachers is vested solely with the Board. 105 ILCS 5/34-8.1 (West 2010). The Chicago Teachers Union (Union) is the teachers' exclusive bargaining representative.

¶ 4 In the summer of 2010, the Board faced significant budget deficits for the 2010-2011 school year. Consequently, in several phases that summer, the Board was forced to lay off 1,289 teachers. All laid-off teachers received notice of their termination. With their notices, the Board gave the teachers information on how to search and apply for vacant teaching positions within the Chicago public school system. The notices also pointed the teachers to a Web site listing vacancies and included invitations to attend a resume and interviewing workshop and two job fairs that were open solely to displaced teachers. However, not all vacancies were listed on the Web site, and laid-off teachers were not given preference for other teaching jobs.

¶ 5 In August 2010, due to an increase in federal funding, the Board recalled approximately 715 tenured teachers. These teachers were not recalled pursuant to an official recall policy. According to Rachel Resnick, the Board's labor relations officer: "A teacher who is laid off may be rehired, but we have no recall policy." Subsequent to the layoff, teacher vacancies have become available within the Chicago public school system. Laid-off teachers who were not rehired complain that many of those positions have been filled with new hires instead of with laid-off tenured teachers.

¶ 6 In August 2010, the Union filed a complaint in the United States

District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against the Board alleging, inter alia, violations of federal due process. The Union also filed a motion for preliminary and permanent injunctive relief on its due process claim. Following a hearing, the district court granted the Union's motion for injunctive relief. The court concluded that section 34-18(31) of the School Code (105 ILCS 5/34-18(31) (West 2010)) "provides tenured teachers some residual property rights in the event of an economic layoff" (Chicago Teachers Union v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago, No. 10 C 4852, slip op. at 14 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 4, 2010)), and "contemplates not only rights concerning layoffs, but rights concerning recall procedures as well." Id. at 13. The court found that this property interest is protected by the fourteenth amendment to the United States Constitution. The court entered a permanent injunction: (1) ordering the Board to rescind the discharges of tenured teachers; (2) directing the Board, within 30 days, to promulgate, in consultation with the Union and after good-faith negotiations, recall rules compliant with section 34-18(31); and (3) enjoining the Board from conducting future layoffs in a similar manner until it promulgates recall rules. The district court granted the Board's motion to stay the permanent injunction pending the outcome of the Board's appeal.

¶ 7 A divided panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed "the district court's finding that tenured, laid-off teachers have a residual property right in the event of an economic layoff," but narrowed the scope of the district court's injunction. The appeals court majority concluded: "Although consultation with the Union may expedite the process of promulgating the rules, there is nothing in Section 34-18(31) that requires cooperation with the Union, and we decline to impose such a requirement." Chicago Teachers Union, Local No. 1 v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago, 640 F.3d 221, 232 (7th Cir. 2011), vacated, 662 F.3d 761 (7th Cir. 2011) (per curiam). A dissenting judge asserted that Illinois law did not give tenured teachers a substantive entitlement to be rehired after an economic layoff. Id. at 233 (Manion, J., dissenting).

¶ 8 The Board requested rehearing, contending that the federal court misinterpreted Illinois law. The court concluded that it should afford this court an opportunity to interpret Illinois law. Accordingly, the court granted the petition for rehearing, vacated its prior opinion (Chicago Teachers Union, Local No. 1 v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago, 662 F.3d 761 (7th Cir. 2011) (per curiam), vacating 640 F.3d 221, and, pursuant to its Rule 52 (7th Cir. R. 52), certified the following questions to this court:

"1. Section 34-84 of the Illinois School Code provides that appointments of teachers become 'permanent' after 3 years. This is commonly referred to as tenure. Does section 34-84 give laid-off tenured teachers either (1) the right to be rehired after an economic layoff, or (2) the right to certain procedures during the rehiring process? If so, what is the scope of that right?

2. Section 34-18(31) of the Illinois School Code empowers the Board of Education to promulgate rules governing layoff and recalls. It also provides certain criteria that the Board should consider when formulating those rules. In this case, no rules were formulated. Does section 34-18(31) or the limits it places on the Board's discretion give laid-off tenured teachers either (1) the right to be rehired after an economic layoff, or (2) the right to certain procedures during the rehiring process? If so, what is the scope of that right?

3. If neither section 34-84 nor section 34-18(31) standing alone gives laid-off tenured teachers substantive or procedural rights related to rehiring, when read in combination do they give those teachers either (1) the right to be rehired after an economic layoff, or (2) the right to certain procedures during the rehiring process? If so, what is the scope of that right?" Chicago Teachers Union, Local No. 1, 662 F.3d at 764-65. Further, the court of appeals expressly invited "reformulation of any of the questions presented if necessary," and stated that "nothing in this certification should be read to limit the scope of the inquiry to be undertaken by the Supreme Court of Illinois." Id. at 765. The court of appeals stayed proceedings in that court during our consideration of this matter.

ΒΆ 9 This court accepted certification pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 20 (Ill. S. Ct. R. 20 (eff. Aug. 1, 1992)). We subsequently granted Parents United for Responsible Education, and Designs for Change, leave to submit an amici curiae brief in ...


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