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The Board of Education of Marquardt School District No. 15, Du Page County, Illinois v. the Regional Board of School Trustees of Du Page County

April 24, 2012

THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF MARQUARDT SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 15, DU PAGE COUNTY, ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
THE REGIONAL BOARD OF SCHOOL TRUSTEES OF DU PAGE COUNTY, ILLINOIS; DARLENE J. RUSCITTI, REGIONAL SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS AND EX OFFICIO SECRETARY OF THE REGIONAL BOARD OF SCHOOL TRUSTEES OF
DU PAGE COUNTY, ILLINOIS,
MARTHA ROGERS, PRESIDENT,
GLORIA K. SCIGOUSKY, TRUSTEE,
LAURA POLLASTRINI, TRUSTEE,
JAMES SHEHEE, TRUSTEE,
TIMOTHY WHELAN, TRUSTEE,
JOSEPH WOZNIAK, TRUSTEE,
GENE CAMPBELL, TRUSTEE;
THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF GLENBARD TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 87, DU PAGE COUNTY, ILLINOIS;
THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF BLOOMINGDALE SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 13, DU PAGE COUNTY, ILLINOIS;
THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF LAKE PARK HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 108, DU PAGE COUNTY, ILLINOIS;
THE COMMITTEE OF TEN FOR THE PETITION TO DETACH TERRITORY FROM MARQUARDT SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 15 AND
GLENBARD TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT 87 AND ANNEX THE SAME TO BLOOMINGDALE SCHOOL DISTRICT 13 AND
LAKE PARK HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT 108, ALL IN DU PAGE COUNTY, ILLINOIS,
CONSISTING OF PETITIONERS ROBERT CANICK, VINCENT E. SAVIANO, TANYA SURDO, SHIRLEY TAYLOR, QAMARUDDIN KHAN, SABERA KHAN, FRAN POSITANO, TEODORA CANICK, IQBAL PAGANY, AND
ARTHUR SWANN; AND
CHRISTOPHER KOCH, STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION FOR THE ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION,
DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.
THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF GLENBARD TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 87, DU PAGE, COUNTY ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
THE REGIONAL BOARD OF SCHOOL) TRUSTEES OF DU PAGE COUNTY, ILLINOIS, DARLENE J. RUSCITTI, SUPERINTENDENT AND EX OFFICIO MEMBER OF THE REGIONAL BOARD OF SCHOOL TRUSTEES OF DU PAGE COUNTY, ILLINOIS, MARTHA ROGERS, PRESIDENT,
GENE CAMPBELL, MEMBER,
GLORIA K. SCIGOUSKY, MEMBER,
LAURA POLLASTRINI, MEMBER,
JAMES SHEHEE, MEMBER,
TIMOTHY WHELAN, MEMBER,
JOSEPH WOZNIAK, MEMBER;
THE COMMITTEE OF TEN FOR THE PETITION TO DETACH TERRITORY
FROM MARQUARDT SCHOOL DISTRICT 15 AND GLENBARD TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT 87 AND ANNEX
THE SAME TO BLOOMINGDALE SCHOOL DISTRICT 13 AND LAKE PARK HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT 108, ALL IN DU PAGE COUNTY, ILLINOIS:
ROBERT CANICK,
VINCENT E. SAVIANO, TANYA SURDO, SHIRLEY TAYLOR, QAMARUDDIN KHAN, SABERA KHAN, FRAN POSITANO, TEODORA CANICK, IQBAL PAGANY, ARTHUR SWANN;
CHRISTOPHER A. KOCH, STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION FOR THE ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION;
THE BOARDS OF EDUCATION OF MARQUARDT SCHOOL DISTRICT 15, BLOOMINGDALE SCHOOL DISTRICT 13, AND
LAKE PARK HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT 108, ALL IN DU PAGE COUNTY, ILLINOIS,
DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 09-MR-1499 Honorable Bonnie M. Wheaton, Judge, Presiding. Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 09-MR-1515 Honorable Bonnie M. Wheaton, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Burke

JUSTICE BURKE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Bowman and Schostok concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 On October 3, 2008, Robert Canick, Vincent E. Saviano, Tanya Surdo, Shirley Taylor, Qamaruddin Khan, Sabera Khan, Fran Positano, Teodora Canick, Iqbal Pagany, and Arthur Swann, as a committee of 10 representing two subdivisions (collectively, petitioners), sought to detach their territory from the boundaries of Marquardt School District 15 (District 15) and Glenbard Township High School District No. 87 (District 87) and to annex the territory into the boundaries of Bloomingdale School District No. 13 (District 13) and Lake Park High School District No. 108 (District 108). Pursuant to the Illinois School Code (School Code) (105 ILCS 5/1-1 to 34A-608. (West 2008)), petitioners filed a petition with the Regional Board of School Trustees of Du Page County (the Board). When the Board had not rendered a decision within nine months of the filing of the petition, Districts 15 and 87 submitted the petition to Christopher A. Koch, the Illinois State Superintendent of Education (State Superintendent), alleging that the Board lost its jurisdiction over the petition in accordance with section 7-6(l) of the School Code (105 ILCS 5/7-6(l) (West 2008)). Counsel for the State Board of Education advised the Board that the relevant School Code provisions applied only to petitioners, not Districts 15 and 87, as Districts 15 and 87 did not submit the petition. The Board then continued its proceedings and subsequently granted the petition.

¶ 2 Districts 15 and 87 filed separate actions for administrative review. District 87's complaint was later amended to add a declaratory judgment claim regarding whether the Board retained jurisdiction to grant the petition. The circuit court of Du Page County denied the request for declaratory judgment and affirmed the Board's decision to grant the petition. Districts 15 and 87 each timely appeal. We consolidated the appeals for review.*fn1 On appeal, Districts 15 and 87 contend that the Board lost jurisdiction over the petition and, alternatively, that the Board erred in granting the petition. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

¶ 3 BACKGROUND

¶ 4 The territory that petitioners sought to detach and annex is located in Du Page County and consists of two small subdivisions, known as the Chateaus of Medinah and Vittoria Brooke Estates (collectively, the territory). The boundary line between the properties served by Districts 15 and 87 and the properties served by Districts 13 and 108 runs through and divides the subdivisions. As set forth in the petition, approximately 25% of the territory is within the boundaries of Districts 13 and 108. The petition sought to detach the remaining 75% of the territory from Districts 15 and 87 and annex the territory into Districts 13 and 108. There are 17 school-aged children, ages 5 though 18, currently residing in the territory, but none attend public schools. At the public hearing held before the Board, the parties submitted stipulated exhibits and a statement of facts. Two petitioners and the superintendents and business managers of both District 87 and District 15 testified at the hearing. No witnesses appeared on behalf of District 13 or 108.

¶ 5 As of July 3, 2009, the Board had neither granted nor denied the petition. On July 16, 2009, Districts 15 and 87 submitted the petition to the State Superintendent, pursuant to section 7-6(l) of the School Code (105 ILCS 5/7-6(l) (West 2008)). Districts 15 and 87 also provided notice to the Board, as required by section 7-6(l). According to Districts 15 and 87, since the petition had been filed, nine months had passed without a decision by the Board and, therefore, once the Board received notice pursuant to section 7-6(l), it no longer had jurisdiction over the petition. Based on the relevant School Code provisions, general counsel for the State Board of Education interpreted section 7-6(l) to apply only to petitioners, not Districts 15 and 87, as the districts did not bring the petition. The Board then continued its proceedings, requesting that the parties submit legal briefs regarding the petition. On July 24, 2009, Districts 15 and 87 submitted legal briefs opposing the petition and arguing that the Board had no authority to render a decision, because it lacked jurisdiction under the plain language of section 7-6(l).

¶ 6 The Board granted the petition on July 29, 2009, and a final administrative decision granting the detachment of the territory from Districts 15 and 87 and the annexation of the territory to Districts 13 and 108 was issued on August 27, 2009. Districts 15 and 87 each filed a complaint seeking administrative review of the decision. The complaints were consolidated for hearing purposes only. District 87 filed an amended complaint on August 4, 2010, that added a claim for declaratory judgment on the issue of the Board's jurisdiction. The trial court denied the claim for declaratory judgment and affirmed the Board's decision. Districts 15 and 87 filed separate timely

2012 IL App (2d) 110360

appeals, which we consolidated for review. Districts 15 and 87 argue on appeal that the trial court erred in denying the claim for declaratory judgment and, alternatively, that the Board's decision is against the manifest weight of the evidence. We will refer to the relevant facts where it is necessary to the analysis of the issues set forth below.

¶ 7 ANALYSIS

¶ 8 Declaratory Judgment Action

¶ 9 Districts 15 and 87 first contend that the trial court erred in denying the claim for declaratory judgment. Districts 15 and 87 maintain that under section 7-6(l) of the School Code they were entitled to submit the petition directly to the State Superintendent after nine months without a decision by the Board, and that, when they did so, the Board lost jurisdiction to decide the case.

¶ 10 This is an issue of statutory interpretation, which we review de novo. Board of Education v. Jackson, 401 Ill. App. 3d 24, 31 (2010). To the extent that a trial court's decision in a declaratory judgment action is not based on factual determinations that are uniquely within its province, the trial court's decision is also subject to de novo review. Pekin Insurance Co. v. Hallmark Homes, L.L.C., 392 Ill. App. 3d 589, 593 (2009).

¶ 11 The cardinal principle of statutory interpretation is that the court must effectuate legislative intent. In re Justin M.B., 204 Ill. 2d 120, 123 (2003) (citing Solich v. George & Anna Portes Cancer Prevention Center of Chicago, Inc., 158 Ill. 2d 76, 83 (1994)). The best indicator of legislative intent is the statutory language. Michigan Avenue National Bank v. County of Cook, 191 Ill. 2d 493, 504 (2000). The court should consider the statute in its entirety, keeping in mind the subject it addresses and the legislature's apparent objective in enacting it. People v. Taylor, 221 Ill. 2d 157, 162 (2006) (citing People v. Davis, 199 Ill. 2d 130, 135 (2002)). A reviewing court's inquiry, however, must always begin with the language of the statute itself, which is the surest and most reliable indicator of the legislature's intent. Taylor, 221 Ill. 2d at 162; People v. Pullen, 192 Ill. 2d 36, 42 (2000). When the language of a statute is clear, it must be applied as written without resort to further aids or tools of interpretation. In re R.L.S., 218 Ill. 2d 428, 433 (2006). If statutory language is plain, the court cannot read into the statute exceptions, limitations, or ...


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