JOHN C. HAAG, DANIEL HARBACK, GREG MATAS, DAVID PETERSON, LAURIE BRAHAM, MICHAEL BREYNE, JOHN HENKEL, ELDON JENKINS, PATRICIA BIROS, MARY RUTH CLAYTON, BRENDA CONNOR, LAURA CONNES, CINDY DUTKO, MICHELLE GAYON, SUE ELLEN HENSON, KATHY KMETZ, PAMELA LUCKEY, KATHLEEN MAGANA, TAMARA MUSHRO, TAMELA PANNO, PAMELA PODKANOWICZ, DIANA POMERANKE, REBECCA SAMEK, PATTI THORP, DEBRA WIS SEN, DEBRA WOODWARD, MARY JANE LEE, DEBBIE SCOTT, and JOLYNN HAAGE, formerly known as JOLYNN PEACOCK, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF STREATOR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL DISTRICT 44, Defendant-Appellee.
from the Circuit Court No. 14 MR 32of the 13th Judicial
Circuit, La Salle County, Illinois.The Honorable Joseph P.
Hettel, Judge, Presiding.
PRESIDING JUSTICE HOLDRIDGE delivered the judgment of the
court, with opinion. Justices Lytton and O'Brien
concurred in the judgment and opinion.
PRESIDING JUSTICE HOLDRIDGE
1 The plaintiffs, educational support personnel (ESP)
employed by the Board of Education of Streator Elementary
School District 44 (Board), brought a declaratory judgment
action against the Board, seeking reinstatement to full-time
positions along with corresponding payment of back-pay and
benefits. The plaintiffs maintained that the Board's
action in issuing each plaintiff an honorable discharge from
full-time employment and offering to re-hire each as a
part-time employee violated their rights under section
10-23.5 of the School Code (Code). 105 ILCS 5/10-23.5 (West
2012). Following cross-motions for summary judgment, the
circuit court of La Salle County granted the Board's
motion for summary judgment and denied the plaintiffs'
motion for summary judgment. The plaintiffs appealed.
3 The following facts are taken from the stipulations by the
parties. The Streator Elementary School District operated
under deficit reduction plans since 2008. The District was
placed on the Illinois State Board of Education's (ISBE)
financial watch list in 2012. Prior to that time, the
District had been on the ISBE's financial warning list
since 2009. At the conclusion of the 2012-2013 school year,
the plaintiffs were employed by the District as full-time
custodians, special education aids, or behavior
interventionists. The custodians' full-time employment
was 40 hours per week and the other plaintiffs full-time
employment was 37.5 hours per week.
4 On January 15, 2013, the Board held a regularly scheduled
meeting at which the superintendent recommended the adoption
of a deficit reduction plan that called for reducing all
full-time ESPs to part-time employees with no more than 29
hours of employment per week. The Board subsequently adopted
the superintendent's recommendation as part of an overall
deficit reduction plan.
5 On February 25, 2013, the union representing the plaintiffs
submitted a request to bargain over the impact of the
Board's deficit reduction plan, including the decision to
reduce the hours of any full-time employees. The union and
the Board engaged in bargaining during the period from March
4, 2013, through July 2, 2013. The subject of the reduction
of the plaintiffs' positions from full-time to part-time
was a topic of discussion throughout the impact bargaining,
with the union maintaining that the Board should not make the
reductions, and the Board maintaining that the move was a
matter of economic necessity.
6 On March 19, 2013, the Board voted to reduce custodians to
part-time, effective June 30, 2013, and to honorably dismiss
three of the special education aids. On April 30, 2013, the
Board voted to reduce the remaining special education aids to
part-time, effective June 30, 2013. Notices of honorable
dismissal were sent to those employees. On May 21, 2013, the
remaining special education aids not previously notified were
issued honorable dismissals.
7 As part of the 2012-2013 budget deficit plan, the Board
closed one of its schools, Oakland Park School, in June 2013,
at the end of the 2012-2013 school year.
8 On July 13, 2013, the Board implemented the deficit
reduction plan, eliminated the plaintiffs' full-time
positions, issued each plaintiff an honorable discharge, and
advertised part-time positions to perform the job duties
formerly performed by the plaintiffs. It appears from the
stipulated record that all the impacted employees were
offered employment in part-time positions.
9 The plaintiffs filed a petition, seeking a declaration by
the circuit court that the Board violated section 10-23.5 of
the Code (105 ILCS 5/10-23.5 (West 2012)) by attempting to
"recall" the plaintiffs into part-time rather than
full-time positions. The parties filed cross-motions for
summary judgment. The court granted the defendant's
motion, denied the plaintiffs' motion, and entered
judgment for the defendants. The plaintiffs filed this
11 Summary judgment is properly granted when the pleadings,
depositions, and affidavits show that no genuine issue of
material fact exists and the movant is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law. 735 ILCS 5/2-1005(c) (West 2012);
Outboard Marine Corp. v. Liberty Mutual Insurance
Co., 154 Ill.2d 90, 102 (1990). When parties file
cross-motions for summary judgment, they agree that only a
question of law is involved and invite the court to decide
the issues based upon the stipulated record. Pielet v.
Pielet, 2012 IL 112064, ¶ 28. Where a case is
decided on summary judgment, our review is de novo.
Schultz v. Illinois Farmers Insurance Co., 237
Ill.2d 391, 399-400 (2010). De ...