Ullom v. Independent School Dist. No. 112, Chaska

Decision Date03 May 1994
Docket NumberNo. C5-93-2035,C5-93-2035
Citation515 N.W.2d 615
Parties90 Ed. Law Rep. 1217 Stephen ULLOM, Relator, v. INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 112, CHASKA, Minnesota, Respondent.
CourtMinnesota Court of Appeals

Syllabus by the Court

Minn.Stat. Sec. 122.895, subds. 3, 7 (1992) do not apply when a school district stops participating in a special education program provided by a cooperative but remains a member of the cooperative and continues receiving other services through the cooperative.

Richard L. Kaspari, Garber & Metcalf, Minneapolis, for relator.

Anne F. Krisnik, Gregory S. Madsen, Knutson, Flynn, Hetland, Deans & Olsen, St. Paul, for respondent.

Considered and decided by PETERSON, P.J., and KALITOWSKI and HARTEN, JJ.

OPINION

PETERSON, Judge.

Independent School District No. 112 denied Stephen Ullom's request for reinstatement under Minn.Stat. Sec. 122.895, subd. 7 (1992). Ullom filed a certiorari appeal, seeking review of the school district's decision. We affirm.

FACTS

Respondent Independent School District No. 112 (School District) is a member of the Carver-Scott Educational Cooperative (Cooperative). The Cooperative provides special education and other services to its seven member districts. At the end of the 1992-1993 school year, the School District began providing special education services for children ages three through five on its own rather than obtaining them through the Cooperative. The School District continued receiving other services through the Cooperative and remained a member of the Cooperative.

The Cooperative employed relator Stephen Ullom as a full-time teacher in its special education program for children ages three through five. Ullom provided speech and language services and instruction to the students. The Cooperative placed Ullom on unrequested leave at the end of the 1992-1993 school year.

Sometime later, the School District posted a vacancy for a full-time speech clinician or language pathologist. Ullom applied for the position. The School District denied Ullom's request for reinstatement and hired someone else for the position.

ISSUE

Did the School District properly determine that because the School District had not withdrawn entirely from the Cooperative, Ullom was not entitled to reinstatement under Minn.Stat. Sec. 122.895, subd. 7 (1992)?

ANALYSIS

When reviewing a school board's decision, this court must uphold the decision unless it is unsupported by substantial evidence, based upon errors of law, or fraudulent, arbitrary, or unreasonable. Harms v. Independent Sch. Dist. No. 300 LaCrescent, 450 N.W.2d 571, 574 (Minn.1990). A reviewing court is not bound by a school board's determination concerning questions of law such as statutory interpretation. See Hibbing Educ. Ass'n v. Public Employment Relations Bd., 369 N.W.2d 527, 529 (Minn.1985) (reviewing court not bound by administrative agency's decision regarding question of law).

Minn.Stat. Sec. 122.895 (1992) provides:

Subd. 3. Notification of teachers. In any year in which a cooperative dissolves or a member withdraws from a cooperative, the governing board of a cooperative shall provide all teachers employed by the cooperative written notification by March 10 of:

(1) the dissolution of the cooperative and the effective date of dissolution; or

(2) the withdrawal of a member of the cooperative and the effective date of withdrawal.

* * * * * *

Subd. 7. Rights of a teacher placed on unrequested leave upon withdrawal. (a) This subdivision applies to a teacher who is placed on unrequested leave of absence, according to section 125.12, subdivision 6a or 6b, in the year in which the cooperative provides the notice required by subdivision 3, clause (2), by a cooperative from which a member district is withdrawing.

This subdivision applies to a district that, except as a result of open enrollment according to section 120.062, provides essentially the same instruction provided by the cooperative to pupils enrolled in the withdrawing district.

(Emphasis added.) Minn.Stat. Sec. 122.895, subd. 7(b)-(d) grants reinstatement and tenure rights to teachers placed on unrequested leave.

It is undisputed that Minn.Stat. Sec. 122.895, subds. 3, 7 would apply if the School District had withdrawn entirely from the Cooperative. It is also undisputed that the School District did not withdraw entirely from the Cooperative. Ullom argues Minn.Stat. Sec. 122.895, subds. 3, 7 apply when a school district withdraws partially from a cooperative by stopping its participation in a program offered through the cooperative.

The purpose of statutory interpretation is to give effect to the legislature's intent. Minn.Stat. Sec. 645.16 (1992). When the words in a statute are clear and unambiguous, a court must give effect to the plain meaning of the language. Tuma v. Commissioner of Economic Sec., 386 N.W.2d 702, 706 (Minn.1986).

In each place in Minn.Stat. 122.895, subds. 3, 7 where the term withdraw is used, it refers to a district withdrawing from a cooperative. See also Minn.Stat. Sec. 122.895, subds. 6, 9 (1992) (discussing other matters applicable to withdrawal of member district from cooperative). The references to withdrawal are not qualified in any way. The plain meaning of the statutory language requires us to interpret Minn.Stat. Sec. 122.895, subds. 3, 7 as referring only to the withdrawal of a district entirely from a cooperative.

To interpret the statute to apply in other situations would require us to specify an event other than complete withdrawal that would trigger the notice requirement in subdivision three and the corresponding teachers'...

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