On June 20, an Illinois Appellate Court in Frakes and Lawler v. Peoria School District No. 150, successfully defended by Stan Eisenhammer, Jeff Goelitz, and HLERK alumnus Tony Loizzi, agreed that the Peoria School District acted properly in honorably dismissing teachers who were in Group 2 as part of a RIF and not recalling them.
Due to funding and enrollment uncertainties in the spring, the district had RIF’d a number of teachers in Groups 1, 2, and 3. As funding and enrollment figures solidified over the spring and summer, the district recalled the Group 3 teachers. It did not recall Group 1 or Group 2 teachers, although some Group 1 teachers—who were in Group 1 because of the lack of an evaluation, not because of performance issues—were hired anew.
The plaintiffs in the case were two Group 2 tenured teachers who were RIF’d and not recalled. They argued that because the district started the next year with more teachers than when the prior year ended, there was never a RIF at all, and the district’s interpretation of the statute would allow it to dismiss tenured teachers “on a whim.”
Like the trial court, the appellate court rejected the plaintiffs’ argument. The court concluded that there are adequate procedures to prevent school boards from dismissing tenured teachers on a whim, and that Section 24-12(b) of the School Code does not provide teachers in Group 2 any recall rights. The court noted that, in the context of recall, “tenure is no longer protective to the extent the plaintiffs allege.”
This outcome, however, is tempered somewhat by Public Act 98-648, which took effect July 1, 2014 and grants certain Group 2 teachers recall rights for a limited period of time. (See Article: SB7 Amendment Gives Limited Recall Rights to Certain Group 2 RIF’d Teachers.)
Please contact Stan Eisenhammer, Terry Hodges, Cindi DeCola, Ellen Rothenberg, Tina Christofalos, Jeff Goelitz, or Chris Hoffman with your RIF/recall inquiries.