Grand Forks Ed. Ass'n v. Grand Forks Public School Dist. No. 1, No. 1

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of North Dakota
Writing for the CourtSAND; ERICKSTAD
Citation285 N.W.2d 578
Parties103 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2945 GRAND FORKS EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, Appellee and Cross-Appellant, v. GRAND FORKS PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 1, a Public Corporation, and Dr. Raymond Fischer, Jack Kramer, F. John Marshall, Mrs. Barbara Norby, Mrs. Niomi Phillips, Michael Polovitz, Peter Porinsh, Roy Trueblood, Dr. D. Jerome Tweton, and Major Sidney Hoekstra, as members of the Grand Forks Public School District, a Public Corporation, Appellants and Cross-Appellees. Civ.
Docket NumberNo. 1,No. 9623
Decision Date25 October 1979

Page 578

285 N.W.2d 578
103 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2945
GRAND FORKS EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, Appellee and
Cross-Appellant,
v.
GRAND FORKS PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 1, a Public
Corporation, and Dr. Raymond Fischer, Jack Kramer, F. John
Marshall, Mrs. Barbara Norby, Mrs. Niomi Phillips, Michael
Polovitz, Peter Porinsh, Roy Trueblood, Dr. D. Jerome
Tweton, and Major Sidney Hoekstra, as members of the Grand
Forks Public School District No. 1, a Public Corporation,
Appellants and Cross-Appellees.
Civ. No. 9623.
Supreme Court of North Dakota.
Oct. 25, 1979.

Chapman & Chapman, Bismarck, for appellee and cross-appellant; argued by Daniel J. Chapman, Bismarck.

Shaft, McConn, Fisher & Thune, Grand Forks, for appellants and cross-appellees; argued by Gary R. Thune, Grand Forks.

SAND, Justice.

In the early part of July 1978 the Grand Forks Education Association (Association) negotiated and executed a master contract with the Grand Forks Public School District No. 1 (Board). In the latter part of July the assistant superintendent of the Grand Forks school system met with principals of the two high schools in Grand Forks regarding a stepped-up program of pupil discipline designed to meet problems with regard to vandalism and excessive noise during class periods. As the result of the meeting between the assistant superintendent and the principals of the two high schools a plan was developed which in essence provided that each teacher be assigned one hour of hall monitoring supervisory duties in addition to duties performed otherwise. The teachers had no prior notice on this subject nor did they participate in the meeting.

In the early part of November two teachers filed a complaint alleging that the new supervision policy severely changed working conditions and took away preparation time. The teachers' immediate supervisor responded 1 by stating that it was management's prerogative to make these types of assignments which improved the school climate

Page 579

and that they do not violate the negotiated agreement or school board policy. The Board agreed with the supervisor (administration). The Association then commenced injunctive proceedings to prohibit the Board from instituting the changes in working conditions at the two high schools, specifically the requirement that the teachers be assigned one hour of hall monitoring duty each day and that the injunction continue until such time as the Board has complied in good faith with the provisions of Ch. 15-38.1 of the North Dakota Century Code.

At the trial, after the Association introduced testimony of two witnesses and rested, the Board moved for a dismissal of the proceedings. The court granted the motion for dismissal but also ruled that the issue was arbitrable and was a matter to be presented as a grievance under the Grievance and Complaint Procedure No. 2450. The Board appealed and the Association cross-appealed.

The Board, on appeal, basically agreed that the dismissal was proper but asserted the ruling that supervisory work (hall monitoring) by the teachers constituted a grievance under the Grievance and Complaint Procedure was error. The trial court's ruling apparently served as a basis for the dismissal of the proceedings.

The Association contended that the appeal of the Board should be dismissed and that judgment of the district court should be reversed and that the supervisory policy (hall monitoring) not be implemented until it has been made the proper subject of negotiations, as the statutes require. Sections 15-38.1-09, 15-38.1-08, and 15-38.1-12(1)(a), NDCC.

The Association also argued that the appeal should be dismissed on the legal grounds that the Board had received everything it had asked for, and in support of this argument the Association cited Graven v. Backus, 163 N.W.2d 320 (N.D.1968); Application of Hvidsten Transport, Inc., 113 N.W.2d 73 (N.D.1962); 4 Am.Jur.2d Appeal and Error § 185, that only an aggrieved party may appeal and that the Board was not an aggrieved party. We, however note that the court in dismissing the complaint ruled that the basic issue was a matter to be resolved by proceedings under the Complaint and Grievance Procedure, 2450, which the Board claimed was error. This case is readily distinguishable from the cited authorities.

We believe the court's ruling on the grievance procedure was the basis for granting the Board's motion to dismiss and is one of the basic issues in this appeal, and conclude that the Board had a right to appeal, which appeal we will consider on its merits.

The principal issue is whether or not the supervisory program (hall monitoring) adopted in July of 1979, which had not been placed on the negotiation table by either side, made the working conditions better or less favorable to the teachers than they were the previous year, and, therefore, should have first been placed on the negotiation table for approval before implementing it. In brief, the Association contends that the teachers had two preparation periods the year before, but under the new supervisory program they have only one, which makes the working conditions less favorable.

The district court found as a fact that the president of the Grand Forks Education Association and the chairman of the Grievance Committee recognized the Grievance and Complaint Procedure, 2450, as the procedure for handling grievances and complaints from teachers within the school district.

Page 580

Significantly, the Association, in its brief, stated:

". . . the trial court was correct in holding that this was a grievance, subject to binding arbitration."

Under the Grievance and Complaint Procedure, 2450, a teacher may proceed by either complaint or grievance, as the case may be. Furthermore, any decision reached by either the complaint or grievance process will not deprive the party of any legal rights nor will it preclude either party from taking any legal action in regard to the matter involved.

Under Section II, Definitions, of 2450, we find that:

"A complaint is an event or circumstance for which a teacher feels dissatisfaction and chooses to communicate the concern to his/her immediate supervisor.

"A grievance is also an event or circumstance for which a teacher feels dissatisfaction and chooses to communicate the concern to his/her immediate supervisor. However, a grievance must be directly related to the terms of the teacher's individual contract with the School District, or a concern related to the...

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