Wood Dale SD 7-Amicus Report

IASB Amicus Program Supports School District in Illinois Supreme Court Decision

The Amicus Program of the Illinois Association of School Boards supported member board of education Wood Dale SD 7 in a major victory before the Illinois Supreme Court involving sick leave provision of the School Code.

IASB member board of education Wood Dale SD 7 reached out to IASB General Counsel Kimberly Small and Executive Director Tom Bertrand for support before the Illinois Supreme Court through IASB’s Amicus Program. IASB invited the Illinois Association of School Administrators to join the effort. Both associations filed an Amicus Brief to provide “a unique perspective or specific information that can assist the court beyond what the parties can provide.”

The issue in Dynak v. Board of Education of Wood Dale School District was whether the School Code’s sick leave provision, 105 ILCS 5/24-6, permits a teacher who gives birth at the end of one school year to use her accumulated paid sick leave at the start of the next school year for that same birth.

The Wood Dale Board of Education, represented before the Illinois Supreme Court by attorney Adam Dauksas[A1]  with the law firm of Himes Petrarca & Fester (HPF), argued that the teacher may not use accumulated sick leave at the start of the next school year for a birth that occurred at the end of the previous school year. For more about the specific arguments made by Wood Dale attorney Dauksas during oral argument, see HPF’s article.

The Amicus Brief supporting the Wood Dale Board of Education, written by attorneys Stanley B. Eisenhammer, Jennifer Donnelly, and Katherine LaRos a with the law firm of Hodges Loizzi Eisenhammer Rodkick & Kohn LLP (HLERK), provided the following overall perspective that:
  • The true intent of 105 ILCS 5/24-6 comes into focus after reviewing the evolving treatment of pregnant teachers by the courts, the legislature, and school boards over the past 50 years.
  • Once the legislature’s intent is understood, it is clear that the most simple, straight-forward reading of 105 ILCS 5/24-6 is the correct interpretation of the statute.
  • The intent of 105 ILCS 5/24-6 was not to grant, in some convoluted manner, paid parental leave unrelated to disability related to childbirth.
The Amicus Brief concluded stating “We understand the desire of the Plaintiff to have more paid time off so she can remain home with her baby — even when she is not disabled. But the amendments to 105 ILCS 5/24-6 do not go that far. That issue has been left to school boards and their unions to work out.” For more about the case and Amicus Brief, see HLERK’s article.

The Supreme Court held that 105 ILCS 5/24-6 does not afford teachers such a right, clarifying that the law allows teachers to use up to 30 days of accumulated paid sick leave during the six-week period immediately following the birth; however, when that six-week period has elapsed, a teacher cannot use paid sick days for birth unless a physician’s certificate is provided as set forth in the law.

IASB encourages school boards to contact their attorneys to assess the implications of this decision in their districts, especially if the existing collective bargaining agreements do not specifically address the issue in this case.

Special thank you to Wood Dale SD 7, its attorney Adam Dauksas of HPF, and IASB’s Amicus attorney Stanley B. Eisenhammer of HLERK for their collaboration to benefit all IASB members across Illinois.