Amicus Report

IASB files Amicus Curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs in a limited number of important appellate cases having statewide significance. In an Amicus brief, IASB presents its perspective on a legal matter having public policy implications. IASB frequently joins with other management associations to file an Amici brief.

Management associations celebrate success in OMA case involving Springfield school district

In an update to this case, IASB, IASA, and Illinois ASBO filed an Amici brief with the Illinois Supreme Court in a case involving whether the board’s action to approve a separation plan and agreement with the superintendent violated the Open Meetings Act. The Illinois Supreme Court has agreed with the lower courts, issuing a very favorable decision for public bodies in Illinois on January 20, 2017.

The decision means that during a validly conducted closed session, board members may continue to express their individual positions without fear they are taking impermissible final action. Activities in closed session like taking a straw poll or signing a document are permissible provided the board later takes final action in a properly conducted open session. The critical requirement is that the final vote be taken at an open session. In addition, the Open Meetings Act only requires that the board advise the public about the general nature of the matter under consideration with sufficient detail to identify the particular transaction or issue. Final action does not, as the Attorney General claimed, require that the board provide a detailed explanation about the significance or impact of the proposed final action or the “key terms,” in this case, of the agreement at issue. It is worth noting that the board in this case also posted with its notice and agenda to the public for this meeting the links to the information that the Attorney General claimed should have been recited in the school board’s motion on the topic at issue.

We wish to thank our lawyers, James Petrungaro and Kevin Gordon, Scariano, Himes and Petrarca, CHTD. They wrote the Amicus gratis for benefit of our members. Their outstanding work on this case deserves high praise.

Read the opinion filed January 20, 2017.

IASB and IASA Amici brief a success | School boards hold final decision-making authority in for cause tenured teacher dismissals | SB 7 dismissal procedures upheld

IASB and IASA filed an Amici brief this past summer with the Illinois Supreme Court in Beggs v. Board of Education of Murphysboro Community Unit School Dist. No. 186, a case involving the standard of review in the School Code post "Senate Bill 7," which is applied in every for cause tenured teacher dismissal case that occurs outside of Chicago, Illinois. The Court issued a very favorable decision on Dec. 1, 2016. And school boards now have strong case law behind their role as the final decision makers in for cause dismissals.

The issue centered on whether Section 24-12(d)(9)'s mandate that the reviewing Court "give consideration to the school board's decision and its supplemental findings of fact, if applicable, and the hearing officer's findings of fact and recommendation in making its decision" alters the standard of review imposed by the Administrative Review Law.

The Amici brief urged that "Senate Bill 7's" legislative changes were meant to restore the final decision-making authority to school boards in for cause tenured teacher dismissal cases – and the Court agreed.

The Court found that "the plain statutory language of section 24-12 provides that the decision of the school board is the final decision for purposes of administrative review" and "the legislature reformed the School Code to eliminate the hearing officer as the final decision maker." As a result, it held that "traditional standards of review for administrative proceedings" are applicable. The resolution of this issue has significant impact on the ability of school boards to dismiss tenured teachers for cause and fulfill the Illinois General Assembly's intent of improving the quality of teachers in Illinois.

IASB and IASA are grateful to Stan Eisenhammer, Jessica Walker, and Mary Karagiannis of Hodges, Loizzi, Eisenhammer, Rodick & Kohn LLP, for writing an exceptional brief on a complex issue.  
Read the Amici brief for an understanding of the importance of this case.
Read the opinion filed December 1, 2016.