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ple should, nevertheless, vote to leave the amount to the judg-
ment and discretion of the directors, it is held that the directors
would be thereb}^ leg^^^^lj empowered to exercise the discretion so
conferred, and borrow such sam as to them may seem expedient,
subject to the limitation prescribed by law. The proceedings of
all such meetings must be carefully recorded by the clerk of the
board, as evidence of the authority conferred. (§ 47.) l^o money
can be borrowed, or tax levied, in any case, for the erection of
school houses, purchasing sites, etc., without a vote of the people
of the district. {Beverly v. Sahin, 20 JU., 357.)

8. May Locate Site in Certain Cases. — In case the question
of locating a school house site is submitted to the voters of a dis-
trict, and the voters fail to agree, and no one locality receives a
majority of all the votes cast, the board of directors are, in that
case, if in their judgment the interests of the district require it,
authorized to select a suitable site; and the site so chosen by
t*iiem shall, in that case, be in all respects legal and valid. (§48.)

9. Must Receijpt for Schedules. — The director or directors to
whom a schedule is delivered by the teacher, must give said
teacher a receipt for the same, and for any loss sustained by the
teacher through failure to deliver the schedule to the township
treasurer within the time fixed by law, the director or directors
receipting for the same are personally liable. (§ 54.)

10. Interest on Balances Due Teachers. — If the amount cer-
tified in any schedule to be due the teacher, or any part thereof,
is not paid on the first Monday of April or October, said amount,
or said part thereof, is entitled to interest at the rate of ten per



168 SCHOOL LAWS OF ILLINOIS, WITH

cent, per annum until paid ; and school directors must allow and
pay said rate of interest, and said balances due teachers, out of
the first moneys belonging to the district, and not otherwise
specifically appropriated. This positive requirement of the law,
while just to teachers, is not unjust to directors, since directors
are clothed with ample power, and it is their imperative duty, to
levy such a tax annually, as will enable them to pay their teach-
ers in full, and meet all other corporate liabilities. ( § 54.)

11. May Dema/nd Semi-annual Statement from Township
Treasurer. — Township treasurers are by law required to settle
semi-annually with each board of school directors in their respect-
ive townships. Directors may therefore demand, and township
treaurers must furnish, on the first Mondays of April and Octo-
ber of each year, a certified statement, showing the condition of
the account of each district, and the amount of funds on hand to
the credit and subject to the order of the directors of each district
respectively. This exhibit will enable directors to proceed under-
standingly, in making their estimates and levying taxes for the
current expenses of each school year. (§ 63.)

12. Questions of Residence. — The right of children to attend
school in a given district is based upon their being residents of
said district. The right to determine all questions of residence,
and of eligibility to the privileges of a district school is vested in
the directois. (§48.)

13. Mat) Lease or Rent School Houses. — By section 48 direct-
ors are required to establish a sufficient nuinber of free schools
for the proper accommodation of all the children of lawful school
age in their respective districts. By section 43 they are author-
ized to levy a tax annually sufficient to defray all necessary ex-
penses of a six months school. It follows from these provisions
of the statute that directors have power to lease or rent suitable
rooms or houses for schools, without a vote of the people, when-
ever the interests of the district, in their estimation, require the
same to be done; and to include the amount of rent in their an-
nual levy for school purposes. The exercise of this right will be
proper in case of the loss of a school house by fire or otherwise,
or when the schools become too crowded, or when it is desired to
grade the schools, or when a district is territorially too large for
all the children to assemble in one place, etc. It is plain that cir-
cumstances may exist in which it is not only the right, but the



OFFICIAL AND JUDICIAL DECISIONS ' 169

imperative duty of the directors, to temporarily rent a room or
house for school purposes ; but permanent school houses must in
all cases be built or provided as soon as practicable. Renting is
only a temporary expedient.

14. Directors and People. — By section 48, directors are cloth-
ed with authority to appoint teachers, and regulate the internal
affairs of the school in accordance with their own best judgment.
It is presumed, of course, that in the exercise of this authority,
they will act with due regard to the opinions and wishes of the
people of the district, whose agents they are, and treat with pro-
per attention and courtesy all requests and suggestions relative
to the interests of the school, which may be submitted to them.
But the directors, not the citizens at large, are legally account-
able for the control and management of the school. If the affairs
of the school and of the district are wisely and successfully
administered, the directors are justly entitled to credit for their
faithfulness ; but if those affairs are conducted imprudently and
unsuccessfully, the accountability rests, both in law and in pub-
lic sentiment, upon the directors, not the citizens at large.
]N"ow, authority must be commensurate with duty — prerogative
with obligation. Whenever, therefore, a difference of opinion
arises between the directors and citizens, in respect to the choice
of a teacher, or any other question of school policy, the directors
have full power to decide the points in controversy, and it is their
duty to do so according to their own best judgment and discre-
tion, amenable only to the provisions of the school law of the
state, from which all their official powers are derived. It is true
that legal proceeding may be instituted against a board of direct-
ors for manifest neglect of duty, or for illegal conduct. But this
can not be affirmed of a mere difference of opinion in the choice
of a teacher, no matter how great may be the popular opposition
to the choice of the directors. (§ 48.)

15. Directors may Resign. — ISTo man can be compelled, by
law, to hold an office against his will. The right to resign can-
not be questioned. A director can resign at any time. "When a
director resigns, his resignation should be made in writing, and
tendered to the board of which he is a member, but the law does
not forbid the acceptance of a verbal resignation, if formally ten-
dered at a meeting of the board. The refusal, or persistent neg-
lect, of a school director to act as such, and to discharge the duties



170 SCHOOL LAWS OF ILLINOIS, WITH

required of him by law, is equivalent to a resignation, and may
be so regarded by tbe other directors, who may proceed to fill
such vacancy according to law; or such delincjuent director may
be compelled by mandmnus to perform his ofiicial duties ; that
writ being the proper one to compel a party to act when it is
his duty to act without it. {People v. Gilmer^ 5 Gilm., 242.)
All resignations should be made to take effect from the election of
successors, so that the board may not be left without a quorum
for business.

16, Incidental Expenses. — The forty-third section authorizes
the directors of each district, without a vote of the people, to
levy an annual tax, "for the purpose of procuring furniture, fuel,
libraries and apparatus, and for all other necessary incidental ex-
penses" of the school. The law does not contemplate that these
expenses should be paid out of the state fund. Hence, it is the
obvious duty of the directors to make provision for such items by
special tax. But where the pubhc funds are more than sufficient
for all the regular expenses of the school, the surplus may be ap-
plied for the incidental expenses mentioned above, or for any
other legitimate school purpose. The object of the authority con-
ferred in this section, is to enable the directors to provide the
means necessary, not only for the regular current expenses of
the school, but also for those numerous conveniences and applian-
ces essential to the proper equipment and furnishing of their
schools, school houses, and grounds. The tax for these purposes
may be levied without a vote of the people, and while no unreas-
onable expenditure should be incurred, directors should not
hesitate to exercise the discretion conferred by this section to any
extent necessary for the most complete arrangement and endow-
ment of their schools. The purchase of all necessary books,
maps, etc., is included in the scope of this section. It is true
economy to procure whatever is necessary for the comfort and
convenience of the scholars, and for the aid of the teacher in his
work.

IT. Loaning District Funds. — The law confers no authority
upon directors to loan surplus district funds, nor is there any
provision of the act which seems to contemplate the loaning of
district funds at all ; but if it should be held that the silence of the
act upon this point is not to be considered as prohibitory, there
can be no doubt that, if such surplus is loaned at all, it must be



OFFICIAL AND JUDICIAL DECISIONS. lYl

by the township treasurer, and upon the same terms, conditions,
and securities as other funds are loaned by him. The interest
accruing from district funds, should they be loaned, belongs, of
course, to the district, and not to the township at large ; and the
treasurer would be entitled to the same percentage as for loaning
township funds.

18. Cannot Delegate Control. — The directors are not author-
ized to certify to the correctness of any schedule unless the
school is conducted according to law. But no school can be con-
ducted according to law that is not under the exclusive super-
vision of the directors. Consequently, no select school, that is
not under their jurisdiction, and not open alike to all the children
in the district is entitled to any of the school fund. ISTor can
school directors make any compromise with the trustees of a
seminary, academy, or any private institution, by which they
agree to surrender any part of their legal jurisdiction and con-
trol of the school. It is a fundamental requirement of the school
law, that all schools established under it shall be subject to the
exclusive direction and control of a regularly elected board of
school directors, and be perfectly free for at least six months in
the year, to all the children, of lawful age, in the district.

19. Quormnfor Business. — ISTo business can be legally trans-
acted by the directors, at any appointed meeting, unless at least
two members are present; nor will any order, certificate, or
other official paper, drawn by them be of legal effect, unless
signed by at least two of the board, or by the president and
clerk ; provided, that in case of two vacancies in the board, the
remaining director may order a special election to fill such va-
cancies, as authorized by section 42, and may perform other ne-
cessary official business till the vacancies can be filled. By section
48, two school directors are expressly declared to be a quorum
for business, and, while all should be notified, yet if two of the
board concur in opinion, they may legally perform any act whidi
the board is authorized to do, and their acts will be valid. It is
not essential to the validity of the act that the third director should
join with them or even be notified of their proceedings. If an
act has the approval of a legal majority of the board, the non-
concurrence or knowledge of the other member will not be in-
quired into. {Trustees v. Allen, 21 III., 120.) {Bchofield v.
WatUns, 22 111., Q%.)



172 SCHOOL LAWS OF LLLItfOIS, "WITH

20. Children Under Age. — By th.e amended law, those only
who are between six and twenty-one years of age have a legal
claim to the privileges of the public schools. Children under
six should in no case be admitted, but directors have, in my esti-
mation, some discretion in respect to persons over twenty-one.
They cannot refuse any whose ages are within the prescribed
limits, but they may, in special cases, and when the interests of
the school will not in any manner be compromised thereby, re-
ceive persons over twenty-one, either residents or non-residents,
charD-insr them a reasonable fee for tuition. But in no case what-
ever can persons under six or over twenty-one be included in the
schedule upon which the public fund is divided. Should such
persons be so included, their attendance must be deducted by the
trustees from the grand total of attendance, before making the
apportionment on schedules.

21. Acts are not Invalidated hy If ere Irregularities of Form.
Mere irregulai'ities and informalities in the levy and collection
of a district tax do not render such tax illegal, nor can the levy
and collection thereof be restrained for such reasons, whether the
officers levying the same were officers de jure or defacto\ nor is
a notice of a district election invalidated by unimportant omis-
sions, provided it specifies the purpose or purposes of such elec-
tion in such a way as to leave no doubt of its meaning; nor
where a site for a school house has been duly chosen is it ren-
dered illegal on account of irregularities or omissions made by
the clerk in describing the site selected ; nor is a district tax,
levied for the building of a school house, or other lawful school
purpose, rendered void by the omission to tax a portion of the
persons in the district, or a portion of the taxable property in the
same. {Merrit v. Farris, 22 III., 303.)

22. Directors are not Personally Liable for their Corporate
Acts. — Directors may be sued as directors, not as individuals.
Their ' private property can not be taken in satisfaction of any
judgment obtained against them in their official character as di-
rectors. Theu' hability for debts legally contracted is a cor-
porate, not a personal liability. They can be proceeded against
for the recovery of all just clams, as directors, not as individuals.
Teachers and others are often non-suited in actions of debt
against directors for failing to observ^e this distinction in the form
of proceedings. ISTo claims are surer of being ultimately paid



OFFICIAL AND JUDICIAL DECISIONS. 173

than those legally held against boards of directors ; for, to the
liquidation of such debts, the whole taxable property of the dis-
trict is pledged, and sooner or later the amount must and will
be made, by taxation or otherwise. The act (§ 49) expressly
authorizes the court, where judgment against any board of direc-
tors is obtained, to enforce payment by attachment or mandamus^
compelling said board to levy a tax, if necessary, to pay the
amount of said judgment, with interest and costs. But it must
be remembered that the property of directors as individuals, is
not liable for such debts. The foregoing remarks do not apply,
of course, in case of malfeasance, or neglect of official duty, on
the part of directors. For losses caused by illegal acts, or
through failure to perform duties enjoined by law, directors are
personally liable ; because in such cases their relation to the dis-
trict is changed ; it ceases to be of a legally representative char-
acter, and hence, their acts not having the sanction of the law,
they and their property, and not the district and its property,
must be held answerable for the consequences. The district is
held responsible for contracts made or debts incurred under the
laWj and for no others.

23. Special District Taxes. — Funds raised by special district
taxation are not public funds in the sense of the law, and there-
fore not subject to apportionment by the trustees, but are under
the exclusive control of the directors of the district, and must be
paid out on their order. Such funds are not subject to, or affected
by, the six months rule, nor do they come in any manner under
the supervision or control of the township trustees. (§§ 44: and
67.)

24. Orders on Township Treasurer, When and How Drawn. —
Directors may draw orders on their treasurer in favor of a teacher,
for past services, or any other legal creditor of the board, at any
time, provided there is an unappropriated balance to their credit
in the hands of the treasurer. Otherwise the directors cannot
draw on the treasurer, nor can he pay over any money to the
teacher until his schedule has been filed, and apportionment made
thereon by the trustees. All orders must state the purpose or in-
debtedness for which they are drawn, and must be signed by a
majority of the board of directors, or by the president and clerk,
otherwise they will not be legal. ( §§ 63 and 67.)



174 SCHOOL LAWS OF ILLINOIS, WITH

25. Cannot he Sued hy Teachers for Their Wages until After
Apportionment. — It is expressly declared in section 54:, that
teachers' schedules are legally payable on the first Mondays in
April and October of each year, and that interest thereon does
not commence to accrue until after those dates respectively. It
follows that teachers cannot sue for their wages until after appor-
tionment. Twice a year only, namely, the first of April and
October, the directors receive school funds. Their obligation to
pay being corporate, not personal, they could not be compelled
to pay teachers out of their private funds, but only out of the
school funds. If, then, it should be held that the directors are
liable to pay prior to April or October, it would follow that they
are required by law to pay money before the law itself enables
them to do so, by placing that money at their disposal — a con-
clusion the unreasonableness of which is self-evident. But, while
directors cannot be compelled by suit to pay teachers prior to the
dates aforesaid, they may and should settle with teachers sooner,
provided they have unappropriated funds in the hands of the
treasurer, as stated in the preceding decision.

26. Must File Schedules with Township Treasurer. — When
a school is composed of pupils from different districts, the direct-
ors of the district in which the school is taught must certify all
the schedules. Directors must examine all schedules delivered
to them, and, after correcting all errors, they must, by at least
two of their number, certify to their correctness and file the
same with the township treasurer on or before the day fixed by
law. If they fail to do this, so that the schedule is forfeited by
not being filed in season, or rejected through their neglect to
make the necessary corrections, they are personally liable for the
loss sustained through such failure or neglect, and damages may
be collected by the teacher. ISTo schedule can be certified which
reaches back more than six months from the time fixed by law
for the stated return of schedules to township treasurers. ( §§ 53
and 54.) Directors must be very careful to present the schedules
in season, for the trustees have no discretion left to receive sched-
ules after the day fixed by law. [Thomas v. Trustees of Schools^
16 111., 163.)

27. Judgments Against Directors Must he Paid Out of the
District Funds. — When directors are sued, in their corporate
name, and judgment is obiained against them, said judgment



OFFICIAL AND JUDICIAL DECISIONS. ' 175

must be paid out of the fands belonging to the district; it can-
not be satisfied out of the unapportioned township funds. The
same is true where a mandamus is issued, directed against the
trustees, treasurer and directors, which is the usual form. It
cannot be supposed that a judgment against a single district
should be satisfied out of funds not yet apportioned by the trus-
tees to the several districts ; this would make all the districts con-
tribute to the payment of the debts of one. Every district is
liable exclusively for its own debts. (§ 49.)

28. (Jannot Borrow Money to Pay Teachers. — School direct-
ors are not authorized to borrow money, in their corporate name,
to pay teachers. They may borrow money as individuals., but
not as directors, to pay teachers.

29. A Director Cannot he Employed as Teacher. — A school
director cannot be interested in any contract made by the board
of which he is a member. As the employment of a teacher,
by a board of directors, is a contract under the law, it follows
that a director cannot be legally employed by the remaining
directors as a teacher. (§ 42.)

30. Contracts Binding on Successors. — Directors are a body
politic and corporate, and hence all of the legal acts and contracts
of one board are binding upon their successors in office. If a board
of directors employ a teacher for a stipulated time, their succes-
sors are bound to fulfil such contract in good faith. ( § 48.)

31. Dismissal of Teachers. — Teachers may be dismissed for
causes specified in the act, one of which is incompetency. As
each board of directors is authorized to determine for itself the
question of competency, so far as its own school is concerned, it
follows that they may dismiss a teacher on the ground of incom-
petency, notwithstanding said teacher may have a certificate from
the county superintendent. With whatever fidelity the superin-
tendent may endeavor to discharge his duty, he can form but an
imperfect judgment, as a general rule, of the moral character,
and especially of the teaching ability of the candidate, and hence,
although the superintendent may be warranted in granting a
certificate, the person may fail as a practical teacher, or in ability
to meet the requirements of a particular school, and in such c^se
directors would be authorized to discharge him from their ser-
vice. A teacher may succeed in one school and yet fail in
another, where the standard of excellence is much higher. While



176 SCHOOL LAWS OF ILLI^STOIS, WITH

the law does not require directors to assign specific reasons for
tlie dismissal of a teacher, yet a sense of justice, and a proper
regard for the reputation of the teacher, should prompt them to
do 80. A teacher feeling aggrieved by the action of the directors
in discharging him, may sue them for his wages, or other dama-
ges, and thus compel them to show cause for the dismissal, and
to support their allegations by adequate proof. ( § 48.)

32. May Direct What Branches Shall he Taught. — Directors
are authorized to prescribe what branches of study shall be
taught, and what text books shall be used, in their respective
schools. They cannot exclude any of the branches specified in
the act, but they may introduce such additional and higher
branches as, in their opinion, the interests of the school may
justify or require. (§§ 48 and 50.)

33. May Aclo^tand Enforce Rules and Regulations. — School
directors are empowered by law to adopt, prescribe, and enforce
all necessary rules and regulations for the management and gov-
ernment of the schools, and the conduct of the scholars. The
authority conferred embraces whatever measures are necessary to
secure regularity and punctuahty of attendance, propriety and
decorum of conduct in and about school buildings, prompt obedi-
ence to the teacher, and whatever else they may deem essential
to the maintenance of discipline and good order, and to the suc-
cessful prosecution of study. The right of directors to make all
such necessary rules and regulations, and to enforce comphance
therewith by suitable penalties, is clear and unquestionable, and
in the exercise of this right they cannot be interfered with or re-
stricted, except for manifest abuse of powers granted, or an un-
warrantable assumption of authority not conferred by the act.
It is to be distinctly understood that the right to enforce is com-
mensurate with the right to prescribe rules and regulations.
Directors may therefore compel obedience, and punish, by sus-
pension, expulsion or otherwise, any obstinate infraction of the
rules which they have established. ~ The teacher is the agent by
whom the rules adopted by the directors are executed, his right
to enforce obedience is therefore sustained by the sanction of
law and the official authority of the directors. Kecourse to dis-
missal or expulsion from school should not, however, be had,
except for very grave and aggravated ofi'enses. Ko pupil can be
expelled from the public schools for a frivolous or light and trivial


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Online Librarystatutes Illinois. LawsSchool laws of Illinois → online text (page 19 of 26)