Nichols v. Aldine Independent School Dist.

Decision Date29 March 1962
Docket NumberNo. 13920,13920
Citation356 S.W.2d 182
PartiesCharles C. NICHOLS et al., Appellants, v. ALDINE INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT, Appellee.
CourtTexas Court of Appeals

Billy E. Lee, Houston, for appellants.

Joe H. Reynolds, Grant Cook, Houston, Bracewell, Reynolds & Patterson, Houston, of counsel, for appellee.

WERLEIN, Justice.

Appellant, residents and taxpayers in Aldine Independent School District of Harris County, Texas, brought this suit to mandamus the Board of School Trustees of said District to call an election in accordance with a petition previously presented by certain residents of the District, for the purpose of submitting a proposal on the issuance of bonds in the amount of $1,000,000.00 for construction of a junior high school building within the District, and to enjoin said trustees from submitting any other proposition on the election ballot, and also asking that the court construe Article 2785, Vernon's Annotated Texas Statutes

The trial court on the verified pleadings of the parties and argument of counsel, all matters of fact having been agreed upon, rendered judgment for appellee, stating in such judgment that the ordering of a bond issue election under said Article 2785 is a discretionary function on the part of said trustees and is not subject to judicial control, absent allegations and proof of unreasonable, arbitrary or capricious abuse of discretion on the part of such board, and further that the determination by the board of trustees of the sufficiency of the petition presented to the trustees under Article 2785 is a discretionary function of the board. From the court's judgment denying the application for mandamus and all temporary relief appellants appeal.

It is appellants' contention that it is mandatory upon school trustees to call an election when presented with a petition signed by twenty or more, or a majority of those entitled to vote in such election. Article 2785 reads in part:

'Before an election is held to determine the proposition of the levy of such tax or the issuance of such bonds, a petition therefor, signed by twenty (20) or more, or a majority of those entitled to vote at such election, shall be presented to the County Judge of the county if for a common school district, and to the district trustees if for an independent school district. On presentation of said petition, said officer or officers shall order an election for such purpose, * * *.'

The first question for determination is whether the Legislature, in using the word 'shall' in said Article, intended that the provision should be mandatory or directory. The word 'shall' is sometimes used in a mandatory sense and sometimes it is used interchangeably with the word 'may'. It should be given that meaning which will best express the legislative intent. The intent of a law is the essence of the law, and it is to be ascertained from the entire context. Hess & Skinner Enginerring Co. v. Turney, 1918, 109 Tex. 208, 203 S.W. 593; National Surety Corporation v. Ladd, 1938, 131 Tex. 295, 115 S.W.2d 600; Thomas v. Groebl, 1948, 147 Tex. 70, 212 S.W.2d 625; Burton v. McGuire, Tex.Civ.App., 3 S.W.2d 576, aff'd Tex.Com.App., 41 S.W.2d 238.

In referring to 'such tax' or the 'issuance of such bonds', Article 2785, amended 1953, as applicable to counties such as Harris County with a population of 700,000 or more, manifestly refers to the provisions of Article 2784g which is also an amendment by the 53rd Legislature in 1953, and which gives school districts the power, when authorized by an election held for such purpose, to levy, assess and collect advalorem texas to pay current interest and maturities of bonds issued and to be issued by the district. 'Before such election is held' and such power can be exercised, the board of trustees must be presented a petition therefor signed by twenty or more persons in the district.

Article 2784g, Sec. 1, giving the school district power to levy, assess and collect taxes to pay the current interest and maturities of bonds issued and to be issued by the district, is clearly not mandatory. We think this Article and Article 2785 are so tied in together that Article 2785 should also be construed as not making it mandatory for school trustees to call an election. The provision in Article 2785 with respect to ordering an election upon presentation of a petition signed by twenty or more, is a check on the discretionary power conferred on the school district by Article 2784g. If such petition is presented to the school trustees and an election is ordered and held for such purpose, following the procedure outlined in Article 2785, then the trustees are authorized to exercise their potential power under Article 2784g to levy and collect taxes for the service and amortization of bonds issued and to be issued. In ascertaining the legislative intent, the entire statute must be considered. In construing Articles 2784g and 2785 together, we have concluded that the Legislature did not intend to give the word 'shall' a mandatory effect.

It is evident that the Legislature, in enacting Article 2785, was aware that such Article would apply not only to small independent school districts but also to large districts such as the Houston Independent School District, and that if a bond election had to be called by the school trustees of such a district whenever presented with a petition signed by twenty or more residents of the district, the consequences might be disastrous. For example, twenty residents in the Houston Independent School District, although lacking experience and knowledge of the District's financial limitations and revenues, could, if they desired an addition of one room to a school, force the school trustees to hold an election which might cost far more than the cost of such room, and also subject the trustees, if the election carried, to all the difficulties the sale of bonds and service and payment of the bonds at their maturities might entail. We do not think that the Legislature intended to make an election for the determination of the need for new schools or additions and the issuance of bonds for their construction subject to the desire or whim of some twenty residents in the district expressed in a petition signed by them, when the consequences could be so harmful to the best interests of the district. Our courts have held that in determining whether a provision in a statute is mandatory or directory, consideration should be given not only to the entire statute, its nature and object, but also to the consequences that would follow from each construction. Chisholm v. Bewley Mills, 1956, 155 Tex. 400, 287 S.W.2d 943; Gayle v. Alexander, Tex.Civ.App., 75 S.W.2d 706; State v. Fox, Tex.Civ.App., 133 S.W.2d 987, writ ref.

We think that in undertaking to determine the legislative intent, consideration should also be given to the broad powers that the Legislature has conferred upon trustees of independent school districts.

The Legislature, in Articles 2749 and 2780, V.A.T.S., has given school trustees exclusive power to manage and control the schools in their respective districts in no uncertain language. Article 2749 provides in part:

'Said trustees shall have the management and control of the public schools and the public school grounds; and they shall determine how many schools shall be maintained...

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8 cases
  • San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez 8212 1332
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • 21 maart 1973
    ...v. LaMarque Ind. School Dist., 328 F.Supp. 638, 642—643 S.D.Tex.1971), reversed, 466 F.2d 1054 (CA5 1972); Nichols v. Aldine Ind. School Dist., 356 S.W.2d 182 (Tex.Civ.App.1962). Local school boards also determine attendance zones, location of new schools, closing of old ones, school attend......
  • J.L.W., Matter of, 08-95-00114-CV
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Appeals
    • 28 maart 1996
    ...182, 183 (Tex.Civ.App.--Houston 1962, no writ). It should be given that meaning which will best express the legislative intent. Nichols, 356 S.W.2d at 183. The legislative intent is to be determined from a consideration of the entire act, its nature, its object, and the consequences that fo......
  • Citizens for Better Educ. v. Goose Creek Consol. Independent School Dist.
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Appeals
    • 28 augustus 1986
    ...exercise of their broad powers of control and management unless a clear abuse of power and discretion is shown. Nichols v. Aldine Independent School District, 356 S.W.2d 182, 185 (Tex. Civ. App.--Houston 1962, no writ); Kissick v. Garland Independent School District, 330 S.W.2d 708, 710 (Te......
  • Moore v. City of Corpus Christi
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Appeals
    • 14 oktober 1976
    ...that follow from the construction thereof. State v. Fox, 133 S.W.2d 987 (Tex.Civ.App.--Austin 1939, writ ref'd); Nichols v. Aldine Independent School District, 356 S.W.2d 182 (Tex.Civ.App.--Houston 1962, no writ). 'There is no absolute test by which it may be determined whether a statutory ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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