In a major victory for all Illinois school districts, on December 3, 2014, the Illinois Appellate Court, Second District, affirmed a trial court’s decision that reconfiguring school boundaries and grade levels at two of the district’s elementary schools was within the discretion of the district. The case Clarke et.al. v. Community Unit School District No. 303, was successfully defended by Stan Eisenhammer and Jennifer Mueller.
In so doing, the appellate court reaffirmed the on-going relevance of a 1983 appellate court decision in Tyska v. Board of Education of Township High School District No. 214 upholding a school board’s decision to close one of their high schools finding that the school closing decision was within the school board’s broad policy making discretion.
In Clarke several parents had challenged the reconfiguration of the two elementary schools arguing that the district had violated requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
In addition to affirming the trial court decision to not overturn the board’s decision to reconfigure the two elementary schools, the appellate court went on to remove the remedy ordered by the trial court, that the district needed to create a Corrective Action Plan and offer Supplemental Educational Services and School Choice pursuant to one of the schools not making adequate yearly progress at the time of the reconfiguration.
The appellate court found that the trial court’s decision preceded Illinois’ NCLB waiver. The appellate court remanded the case back to the trial court for it to consider the appropriate remedy, if any, in light of the NCLB waiver.
The Clarke decision is a major affirmation of the broad discretion granted boards of education by the legislature to manage the affairs of the school district including school reorganizations and reconfigurations.
Contact Stan Eisenhammer or Jennifer Mueller with your NCLB or school reorganization inquiries.