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Board of Education of City of Chicago v. Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Third Division

December 18, 2013

THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, Petitioner,
v.
ILLINOIS EDUCATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, LYNNE O. SERED, IELRB Chairman; IELRB Members, RONALD F. ETTINGER, GILBERT O'BRIEN, MICHAEL H. PRUETER, MICHAEL K. SMITH, and SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION LOCAL 73, CLC, CTW, Respondents.

Held [*]

In an action arising from the termination of a school security officer as a result of an altercation with two students, the finding of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board that the school board committed an unfair labor practice by refusing to turn over the disciplinary records of the students pursuant to a subpoena issued by the arbitrator at the request of the officer’s union in his grievance proceeding was reversed, since the disclosure of the records was prohibited by the Student Records Act in the absence of a court order, and although the arbitrator’s subpoena was not a court order, the clear relevance of the records would indicate that an actual court order could be easily obtained.

Petition for review of order of Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, No. 2011-CA-0088-C.

James L. Bebley and Lee Ann Lowder, both of Board of Education, Chicago, for petitioner.

Lisa Madigan, Attorney General, of Chicago (Michael A. Scodro, Solicitor General, and Sharon Purcell, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel), for respondent Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board.

Tyson B. Roan, of Service Employees International Union, Local 73, of Chicago, for respondent Service Employees International Union, Local 73.

Dowd Bloch & Bennet, of Chicago (Robert E. Bloch and Josiah A. Groff, of counsel), for amicus curiae Chicago Teachers Union.

Presiding Justice Hyman and Justice Neville concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

MASON, JUSTICE

¶1 Petitioner Board of Education of the City of Chicago (Board) seeks direct administrative review of the finding of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB) that it committed an unfair labor practice when it refused to release student records during a grievance proceeding arising out of the Board's termination of a member of the Service Employees International Union, Local 73 (Union). On direct appeal to this court pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 335 (eff. Feb. 1, 1994) and section 3-115 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/3-113 (West 2010)), the Board argues that section 6 of the Illinois School Student Records Act (105 ILCS 10/6 (West 2010)) (Student Records Act), prohibited it from releasing student records without a court order, notwithstanding the Union's willingness to accept a redacted version of the records. The Board further contends that its one-time refusal to provide the records did not constitute an unfair labor practice. For the reasons that follow, we reverse.

¶2 BACKGROUND

¶3 This case arises out of the February 2010 termination of Clinton Cooper, a school security officer at Emil G. Hirsch High School. The Board discharged Cooper, a union member, on the grounds that he initiated physical altercations with two students, D.E. and R.G. The Union initiated a grievance proceeding stemming from this discharge. As a basis for challenging Cooper's termination, the Union contended that the altercation with R.G. never occurred and the second altercation was initiated by D.E. Specifically, the Union believed both students had been disciplined for lying and that D.E. had a history of violence and was expelled following Cooper's termination as a result of a fight with school staff.

¶4 After exhausting the initial steps of the grievance procedure outlined in the parties' collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the Union proceeded to arbitration. In preparation for the arbitration, the Union propounded document requests on the Board in September 2010. The Board turned over most of the requested records, but declined to produce the disciplinary records of D.E. and R.G. on the grounds that the records were confidential. In response, the Union indicated its willingness to accept redacted files omitting the students' surnames. The Union also assured the Board that the documents would remain confidential pursuant to section 3-5.3 of the CBA, which requires all grievances to be processed confidentially.

¶5 When the Board still declined to turn over the records, the Union moved before the arbitrator for execution of a subpoena duces tecum for the disciplinary files of the two students. In its motion for execution of the subpoena, the Union stated it would accept versions of the records referring to the students only by their initials. On February 18, 2011, the arbitrator executed the subpoena, but the Board persisted in its ...


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