Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County. No. 13-CH-3018. Honorable Mitchell L. Hoffman, Judge, Presiding.
Gilbert Feldman, of Cornfield & Feldman, of Chicago, for appellant.
Kevin B. Gordon and A. Lynn Himes, both of Scariano, Himes & Petrarca, Chtrd., of Chicago, for appellee.
JUSTICE HUTCHINSON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Zenoff and Spence concurred in the judgment and opinion.
[¶1] Plaintiff, Angela Segobiano-Morris, was employed as a teacher by defendant, Grayslake Community Consolidated School District No. 46 (the District). In 2013, plaintiff received an " unsatisfactory" rating on her performance evaluation and, due to a reduction in force (RIF), the District dismissed plaintiff at the end of the school term. Plaintiff then brought a complaint for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief, alleging that her dismissal violated the teacher-employment provisions of the School Code (105 ILCS 5/24 (West 2012)) and seeking her reinstatement. The trial court dismissed the complaint pursuant to section 2-619(a)(9) of the Code of Civil Procedure (the Code) (735 ILCS 5/2-619(a)(9) (West 2012)). For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
[¶2] I. BACKGROUND
[¶3] According to plaintiff's complaint, she was employed as a tenured teacher at an elementary school in the District. See 105 ILCS 5/24-11(c) (West 2012) (stating that tenure, or contractual continued service, is generally obtained after four academic years of full-time service). On April 10, 2013, plaintiff received the following letter from the District:
" We regret to advise you that the Board of Education of Community Consolidated School District 46, Lake County, Illinois, pursuant to Section 24-12 of the Illinois School Code, has determined that you are to be honorably dismissed effective as of the end of the 2012-[ ]13 school term and not reemployed for the 2013-[ ]14 school term. The reason for your dismissal is the decision of the Board to decrease the number of teachers due to economic necessity. Accordingly, your employment in and services to the School District shall terminate at the end of the school day on June 6, 2013." (Emphasis in original.)
Plaintiff alleged that it was " common practice" for school boards to issue similar warning letters to teachers but that their dismissals " [we]re not made effective" if sufficient funding became available before
the start of the following school term. In August, the District advertised an opening for an elementary school teacher and hired a candidate at the start of the school term in September. Ultimately, plaintiff was not recalled. Plaintiff's complaint sought her reinstatement and damages in the amount of several weeks' lost wages.
[¶4] The District filed a motion to dismiss under section 2-619(a)(9) of the Code (735 ILCS 5/2-619(a)(9)) (West 2012)). In its motion, the District noted that on April 10, 2013, the school board unanimously approved a resolution calling for a RIF of 20 teachers at the end of the 2012-13 school term, for reasons of economic necessity. Based on performance evaluations, teachers are categorized in groups from 1 to 4, with 4 being the highest. 105 ILCS 5/24-12(b), 24A-5 (West 2012). Groupings control the sequence of dismissals and recalls in the event of a RIF. During the 2012-13 school ...