MO Nat'l Education Assoc. v. MO State BD of Education

Decision Date26 December 2000
Citation34 S.W.3d 266
Parties(Mo.App. W.D. 2000) . Missouri National Education Association, et al., Appellant-Respondent, v. Missouri State Board of Education, et al., Respondent-Appellant. WD57903 (Consolidated with WD57904) Missouri Court of Appeals Western District Handdown Date:
CourtMissouri Court of Appeals

Appeal From: Circuit Court of Cole County, Hon. Thomas Joseph Brown III

Counsel for Appellant: Sally E. Barker

Counsel for Respondent: Gary L. Gardner

Opinion Summary: The Missouri National Education Association appeals the trial court judgment upholding the Missouri State Board of Education's decisions to grant the requests of 16 public school districts for exemptions from the requirement of section 165.016.1, RSMo Cum. Supp. 1998, that school districts expend a certain percentage of current operating costs for compensation of certificated staff or for revisions of the districts' base school year certificated salary percentages. MNEA claims that the trial court (1) erred in affirming the State Board's decisions to grant exemptions or revisions to the 16 school districts under section 165.016.4 because it adopted and applied a legally incorrect construction of the exemption/revision provision, (2) abused its discretion in excluding evidence regarding the legislative history and intent of section 165.016 because the extrinsic evidence was necessary to clarify an ambiguity in the statute, (3) erred in affirming the State Board's determination that the base year revisions of certain school districts applied retrospectively, (4) erred in affirming the State Board's decisions to grant exemptions or revisions because the State Board merely "rubber stamped" the applications of the districts without applying any objective or principled criteria, and (5) erred in finding that the State Board's "Guidelines" did not qualify as rules requiring formal rulemaking procedures.

The State Board cross-appeals from the judgment of the trial court reversing the State Board's decisions to grant the requests of 13 other public school districts for exemptions or revisions. The State Board claims that the trial court erred in (1) failing to dismiss MNEA's petition for lack of standing to obtain judicial review of the State Board's decisions to grant exemptions or revisions under section 165.016 because MNEA members would not have had standing in their own right to seek judicial review of the decisions, (2) failing to join the 29 school districts whose exemptions or revisions MNEA sought to set aside because the districts were necessary parties and could have lost by direct operation of the judgment, and (3) finding that 10 school districts insufficiently notified their certified staff of their requests for exemptions or revisions as required by section 165.016.5 and thus reversing and remanding the State Board's decisions to grant exemptions or revisions to those districts.

AFFIRMED IN PART; REVERSED IN PART; REMANDED.

Division III holds:

(1) Where the State Board's decisions granting exemptions or revisions under section 165.016 to the school districts in this case adversely affected a legally protectible interest of MNEA members who were employed as certified staff in those school districts, those members had standing to challenge the State Board's decisions in their own right. Accordingly, MNEA, the association that represented those members, had standing under section 536.150 to challenge those decisions.

(2) Where a final judgment in the absence of the 29 school districts reversing the State Board's decisions to grant the school districts exemptions or revisions would impair the districts' ability to protect their interest, the districts were necessary parties in the judicial review proceeding and should have been joined. In the case of the 16 districts whose exemptions or revisions were upheld by the trial court, the failure to join those districts in the action for judicial review was not prejudicial. The court's failure to join the remaining 13 school districts whose exemptions or revisions were reversed by the trial court, however, was erroneous.

(3) Where the procedure utilized by the State Board to review and decide each school district's request provided an opportunity for fair consideration of the requests, attendant information, and comments submitted by the certified staff of the districts and where the reasons for which the State Board granted the 16 school districts' requests for exemptions or revisions were reasonable and sound, the trial court's conclusion that the State Board did not abuse the discretion legally vested in it or act arbitrarily or capriciously in granting exemptions and revisions to the 16 school districts was supported by substantial evidence and correctly applied the law.

(4) Where the language of section 165.016.4 necessarily and unavoidably implies that the statute have a retrospective effect and where the statute is procedural in nature, section 165.016.4 operates retrospectively. Where nine of the ten school districts filed their requests for revisions with the State Board during the year following the notice of violation, their requests were timely, and the trial court's conclusion that the retrospective application of the revisions granted by the State Board to the districts was not unconstitutional or unlawful rested on substantial evidence and correctly applied the law. Where one of the ten school districts did not file its request at the earliest opportunity, the trial court's conclusion that the State Board properly granted a permanent revision to the district effective for the 1994-1995 school year misapplied the law. The judgment of the trial court regarding that school district is reversed to the extent that the permanent revision of its base year percentage applies retrospectively to the 1994-1995 and 1995-1996 school years.

(5) Where the State Board did not vote on the proposed "Guidelines," the "Guidelines" were not a guide for future decision making but simply a compilation of the reasons school districts had advanced in the past in support of their requests for exemptions or revisions, and no evidence was presented that the State Board followed or applied the so-called "Guidelines" in deciding to grant exemptions or revisions, the trial court did not err in finding that the "Guidelines" did not qualify as rules requiring formal rulemaking procedures.

Opinion Author: Robert G. Ulrich, Judge

Opinion Vote: The judgment is affirmed in part and reversed in part, and the case is remanded to the trial court. Smith, P.J., and Ellis, J., concur.

Opinion:

The Missouri National Education Association (MNEA) appeals the judgment of the trial court upholding the decisions of the Missouri State Board of Education (State Board) to grant the requests of 16 public school districts for exemptions from the requirement of section 165.016.11 that school districts expend a certain percentage of current operating costs for compensation of certificated staff or for revisions of the districts' base school year certificated salary percentages. MNEA claims that the trial court (1) erred in affirming the State Board's decisions to grant exemptions or revisions to the 16 school districts under section 165.016.4 because it adopted and applied a legally incorrect construction of the exemption/revision provision, (2) abused its discretion in excluding evidence regarding the legislative history and intent of section 165.016 because the extrinsic evidence was necessary to clarify an ambiguity in the statute, (3) erred in affirming the State Board's determination that the base year revisions of certain school districts applied retrospectively, (4) erred in affirming the State Board's decisions to grant exemptions or revisions because the State Board merely "rubber stamped" the applications of the districts without applying any objective or principled criteria, and (5) erred in finding that the State Board's "Guidelines" did not qualify as rules requiring formal rulemaking procedures.

The State Board cross-appeals from the judgment of the trial court reversing the State Board's decisions to grant the requests of 13 other public school districts for exemptions or revisions. The State Board claims that the trial court erred in (1) failing to dismiss MNEA's petition for lack of standing to obtain judicial review of the State Board's decisions to grant exemptions or revisions under section 165.016 because MNEA members would not have had standing in their own right to seek judicial review of the decisions, (2) failing to join the 29 school districts whose exemptions or revisions MNEA sought to set aside because the districts were necessary parties and could have lost by direct operation of the judgment, and (3) finding that 10 school districts insufficiently notified their certified staff of their requests for exemptions or revisions as required by section 165.016.5 and thus reversing and remanding the State Board's decisions to grant exemptions or revisions to those districts.

The judgment of the trial court is affirmed in part and reversed in part, and the case is remanded to the trial court.

FACTS

In 1996, the Missouri General Assembly enacted section 165.016. Sections 165.016.1 and 165.016.2 require a public school district to expend a defined percentage of current operating costs for tuition, teacher retirement, and compensation for certificated staff each school year. Section 165.016.1 and .2. This required certificated salary percentage is related to the base school year certificated salary percentage (base year percentage), which is the average ratio of the 1991-92 and 1992-93 school years' expenditures for tuition, teacher retirement, and certificated staff compensation to operating costs. Section 165.016.1. For the 1994-95 and 1995-96 school years, a school district was required to spend on tuition, teacher...

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