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Jones v. The Board of Education of City of Chicago

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division

July 10, 2013

CHARLOTTE JONES, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, DAVID VITALE, President, JESSE RUIZ, HENRY BIENEN, MAHILIA HINES, PENNY PRITZKER, ROD SIERRA, ANDREA ZOPP, Board Members; JEAN-CLAUDE BRIZARD, Chief Executive Officer; ANNE WEILAND, Hearing Officer, and THE ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, Respondents-Appellees.

Modified upon denial of rehearing, September 3, 2013.

On Petition for Review of a Final Administrative Decision of the Board of Education of the City of Chicago Board Resolution No.: 12-0725-RS3.

PRESIDING JUSTICE QUINN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Connors and Simon concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

QUINN, PRESIDING JUSTICE

¶ 1 I. INTRODUCTION

¶ 2 Petitioner, Charlotte Jones, a tenured teacher was terminated from her position by the Board of Education of the City of Chicago (Board) for repeatedly providing a false Chicago address for her two children rather than their suburban resident address so she could enroll them at the selective-enrollment Chicago elementary school where she taught. She continued her daughter's Chicago education at Morgan Park high school, a selective-enrollment Chicago high school, in the same fraudulent manner. This is a direct appeal to the appellate court for judicial review of the final administrative agency decision of the Board entered on July 25, 2012, which disposed of all claims surrounding the petitioner's termination in favor of the Board.

¶ 3 II. JURISDICTION

¶ 4 Neither party cited authority for petitioner's direct appeal to the appellate court from the Board's final administrative decision. Jurisdiction is conferred on this court pursuant to section 34-85(8) of the Illinois School Code (105 ILCS 5/34-85(8) (West 2012)), which states that "[t]he teacher may seek judicial review of the board's decision in accordance with the Administrative Review Law, except that the review must be initiated in the Illinois Appellate Court for the First District." The Administrative Review Act provides that "[u]nless another time is provided specifically by law authorizing the review, an action for direct review of a final administrative decision of an administrative agency by the appellate court shall be commenced by the filing of a petition for review in the appellate court within 35 days from the date that a copy of the decision sought to be reviewed was served upon the party affected by the decision." 735 ILCS 5/3-113(a) (West 2012). The Board's final decision is dated July 25, 2012. Petitioner's petition for appellate review, filed on August 23, 2012, is timely.

¶ 5 III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

¶ 6 Our supreme court has carefully constructed guidance for judicial review of administrative decisions, such as the Board's order of termination in this case, and stated as follows:

"Judicial review of administrative decisions is subject to important constraints regarding the issues and evidence that may be considered. In addition, '[t]he findings and conclusions of the administrative agency on questions of fact shall be held to be prima facie true and correct' and '[n]o new or additional evidence in support of or in opposition to any finding, order, determination or decision by the administrative agency shall be heard by the court.' 735 ILCS 5/3-110 (West 2002). Consistent with these statutory mandates, we have held that 'it is not a court's function on administrative review to reweigh evidence or to make an independent determination of the facts.' [Citation.] When an administrative agency's factual findings are contested, the court will only ascertain whether such findings of fact are against the manifest weight of the evidence. [Citation.]
The standard of review is different when the only point in dispute is an agency's conclusion on a point of law. There, the decision of the agency is subject to de novo review by the courts. Yet a third standard governs when the dispute concerns the legal effect of a given set of facts, i.e., where the historical facts are admitted or established, the rule of law is undisputed, and the issue is whether the facts satisfy the statutory standard. In such cases, which we have characterized as involving a mixed question of law and fact, an agency's decision is reviewed for clear error." Provena Covenant Medical Center v. Department of Revenue, 236 Ill.2d 368, 386-87 (2010).

ΒΆ 7 These are the standards we implement in reviewing the Board's final ...


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