Everding v. Board of Ed. In and For Floyd County, 48921

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Citation76 N.W.2d 205,247 Iowa 743
Docket NumberNo. 48921,48921
PartiesOtto EVERDING, Donald Fredericks, Carsten Bahnsen, George Grundel, Dave Edgar, R. V. Wilkinson, Appellants, v. The BOARD OF EDUCATION IN AND FOR FLOYD COUNTY, Iowa, Fannie G. Howell, Secretary and Executive Officer, and Mrs. Wilber Forsyth, Chairman, and The Board of Education in and for Cerro Gordo County, Iowa, Mrs. Hazel V. Chappell, Secretary and Executive Officer, and Earl Dean, Chairman, and The Board of Education in and for Mitchell County, Iowa, L. P. Ortale, Secretary and Executive Officer, and Rolland Eske, Chairman, Appellees.
Decision Date04 April 1956

Murray H. Finley and Thomas C. Teas, Mason City, and B. C. Sullivan, Rockford, for appellants.

Laurence E. Plummer, Northwood, and Zastrow, Noah & Smith, Charles City, for appellees.

GARFIELD, Justice.

The question presented is whether residents of an existing school district are authorized by statute to appeal from an order of joint boards of education of three counties, under section 275.16, Code 1954, I.C.A., determining and fixing the boundaries of a community school district, proposed to be established under Code (1954) chapter 275, to include land within the existing district. In adjudicating a law point under rule 105, Rules of Civil Procedure, 58 I.C.A., the district court held such residents are not authorized to appeal. From judgment dismissing their petition pursuant to such adjudication plaintiffs have appealed to us. We affirm the decision.

Plaintiffs reside in Falls Township Consolidated Independent School District in Cerro Gordo county. Although we do not regard it as important, collectively they constitute the board of directors of that district. Incidentally, and this too we think is unimportant, it is not claimed the district is a party to this action. The county boards of education of Floyd, Cerro Gordo, and Mitchell counties, acting as a sigle board under Code section 275.16, determined and fixed the boundaries of a community school district of Nora Springs, proposed to be established under Code chapter 275, to include certain land in the Falls Township district.

Thereafter plaintiffs appealed the decision of the joint boards to the state superintendent of public instruction. However, she held an appeal from such a decision by individuals would not lie and dismissed the appeal. Pursuant to section 275.18, notice was published of an election upon establishment of the proposed district. Plaintiffs then brought this action against the joint boards in the district court of Floyd county as an appeal from the above order made by them.

Plaintiffs' petition alleges the facts just mentioned and indicates their principal contentions on the merits are that land should not be taken from the Falls Township district for the new community district without a vote of all qualified voters in the existing district and if this may be done such action is unconstitutional as a wrongful delegation of authority, a denial of equal protection of the law and an arbitrary deprivation of a vested property interest. They asked that the order of the joint boards be set aside insofar as it pertains to land in the Falls district and that the holding of the election be enjoined.

Regarding defendants' answer to plaintiffs' petition it is sufficient to say it admits the factual matters we have referred to but denies plaintiffs are such persons as may appeal from defendants' order determining and fixing boundaries of the new district. Upon defendants' application under rule 105, Rules of Civil Procedure, and with plaintiffs' agreement the district court adjudicated this point of law. The ruling was in defendants' favor and since this disposed of the case plaintiffs' petition was dismissed at their costs.

The case involves the proper interpretation of the applicable sections of chapter 275. It is fundamental that the right of appeal is purely a creature of statute. Such right was unknown at common law. It is not an inherent or a constitutional right and the legislature may grant or deny it at pleasure. Van Der Burg v. Bailey, 207 Iowa 797, 799, 223 N.W. 515 516; Wissenberg v. Bradley, 209 Iowa 813, 821, 229 N.W. 205, 67 A.L.R. 1075, 1081, and citations; Dean v. Clapp, 221 Iowa 1270, 1272, 268 N.W. 56; State ex rel. McPherson v. Rakey, 236 Iowa 876, 878, 20 N.W.2d 43, 44, and citations, including 2 Am.Jur., Appeal and Error, section 6, which cites numerous decisions for the proposition, 'unless the statute expressly or by plain implication makes provision therefor, there is no right of appeal.' Thus plaintiffs have no right of appeal here unless it is conferred by chapter 275. It is not claimed any other statute confers such a right.

In reaching the correct interpretation of the applicable provisions of chapter 275 we should consider the entire act and, so far as possible, construe its various provisions in the light of their relation to the whole. This is a fundamental rule of statutory construction. Ahrweiler v. Board of Sup'rs, 226 Iowa 229, 231, 283 N.W. 889, 890, Oliver, J.; Board of Park Commissioners of City of Marshalltown v. City of Marshalltown, 244 Iowa 844, 851, 58 N.W.2d 394, 398, and citations; Wolf's v. Iowa Employment Security Commission, 244 Iowa 999, 1006, 59 N.W.2d 216, 220, and citations. See also McCarthy v. Iowa Employment Security Commission, 247 Iowa ----, 76 N.W.2d 201, Smith, J.

Chapter 275 was enacted in April, 1953, as chapter 117, Acts 55th General Assembly. It amended and revised chapters 275 and 276, Code 1950, I.C.A. While we have considered some phases of the law the question now presented is new. Much of chapter 275 is analyzed and parts of it are quoted in an article by Eugene Davis in 39 Iowa Law Review 570, and one by LeRoy R. Voigts in 3 Drake Law Review 57.

The two most important Code sections now to be considered are 275.16 and 275.8. They are the only ones in the chapter which refer to a right of appeal. (Section 275.18 provides for delay in giving notice of election on establishment of joint districts, i. e., those lying in two or more adjacent counties, until time for appeal has expired.) However it seems desirable to set out not only 275.16 and 275.8 but other provisions in the chapter, which bear on the problem presented, in the numerical order in which they appear.

'275.1 Declaration of policy--surveys. It is hereby declared to be the policy of the state to encourage the reorganization of school districts into such units as are necessary, economical and efficient and which will insure an equal opportunity to all children of the state. * * * the county board of education in each county of the state shall initiate detailed studies and surveys of the school districts within the county and territory adjacent thereto for the purpose of promoting such reorganization of districts by unions, mergers, reorganizations or centralization as will effect more economical operation and the attainment of higher standards of education in the schools. * * *

'275.8 Co-operation of state department. The state department of public instruction shall co-operate with the several county boards of education in making the studies and surveys required hereunder. In the case of controversy over the planning of joint districts, the matter shall be submitted to the state board of public instruction and its decision may be appealed to a court of record in one of the counties involved, by an aggrieved party to the controversy, within thirty days after the decision of the state board of public instruction. Joint districts shall mean districts that lie in two or more adjacent counties. (Emphasis added.) * * *

'275.12 Petition. A petition describing the boundaries of the proposed district, which boundaries shall conform to county plan or the petition shall request amendment of the county plan, * * * shall be filed with the county superintendent of the county in which the greater number of the qualified electors reside. * * *

'275.14 Objection--time of filing--notice. Within ten days after the petition is filed, the county superintendent shall fix a final date for filing objections to the petition * * * and give notice for at least ten days, by one publication * * *. Objections shall be in writing * * *.

'275.15 Hearing--decision--publication of order. * * * the county board of education shall review the matter on its merits and * * * rule on the objections and shall enter an order fixing such boundaries for the proposed school corporation as will in its judgment be for the best interests of all parties concerned, having due regard for the welfare of adjoining districts or dismiss the petition which shall be final. If such boundaries are neither those petitioned for nor those fixed by the county plan, the hearing shall be adjourned and notice for the adjourned hearing shall be given in the same manner as hereinabove provided and upon the final hearing the board shall fix the boundaries, or dismiss the petition which shall be final. * * *.

'275.16 Hearing when territory in different counties. If the territory described in the petition for the proposed corporation lies in more than one county, the county superintendent with whom the petition is filed shall fix the time and place and call a joint meeting of the members of all the county boards of education of the counties in which any territory of the proposed school corporation lies, to act as a single board for the hearing of the said objections, and * * * it shall determine and fix boundaries for the proposed corporation as provided in section 275.15 hereof, or dismiss the petition, unless county plans are amended in which event the decision of the joint county boards may be appealed as provided in section 275.8. * * *

'275.18 Special election called--time. When the boundaries of the territory to be included in a proposed school corporation have been determined as herein provided, the county superintendent with whom such...

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