West Hartford Ed. Ass'n v. Dayson DeCourcy

CourtSupreme Court of Connecticut
Writing for the CourtBefore HOUSE; RYAN
Parties, 80 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2422, 69 Lab.Cas. P 52,928 WEST HARTFORD EDUCATION ASSOCAITION, Inc. v. Dayson DeCOURCY et al.
Decision Date19 April 1972

Page 526

295 A.2d 526
162 Conn. 566, 80 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2422,
69 Lab.Cas. P 52,928
WEST HARTFORD EDUCATION ASSOCAITION, Inc.
v.
Dayson DeCOURCY et al.
Supreme Court of Connecticut.
April 19, 1972.

[162 Conn. 568]

Page 529

Peter B. Sullivan, Hartford, for plaintiff.

Brian Clemow, Hartford, with whom was Jose M. Calhoun, Hartford, for defendants.

Elihu Berman and W. Gary Vause, Hartford, as amici curiae.

Before [162 Conn. 566] HOUSE, C.J., and THIM, RYAN, SHAPIRO and LOISELLE, JJ.

[162 Conn. 568] RYAN, Associate Justice.

This is an action in four counts brought by the West Hartford Education Association, Inc., as plaintiff against the West Hartford Board of Education and Charles O. Richter, superintendent of schools in the town of West Hartford as defendants seeking a declaratory judgment. The case was reserved by stipulation of the parties for the advice of this court. The parties stipulated that the facts are as contained in the plaintiff's complaint with certain additions.

The facts may be summarized as follows: The plaintiff, West Hartford Education Association, Inc., hereinafter referred to as the association, is the organization duly elected to represent the certified professional employees of the defendant West Hartford[162 Conn. 569] Board of Education, hereinafter referred to as the board, in the negotiation of salaries and other conditions of employment. The defendant board is the duly elected body charged with the statutory duty to negotiate with the plaintiff with respect to teachers' salaries and other conditions of employment. Negotiating teams of both parties met on numerous occasions since December, 1968, in an attempt to negotiate a group teacher contract for the school years 1969-70 and 1970-71. On May 9, 1969, mediation was requested by the defendant board and on June 27, 1969, a mediation session was held. Although the representatives of the parties met frequently, they were unable to agree on the following topics: Class size, teacher load, length of school day, school calendar, extracurricular activities, and binding arbitration of grievances. 1 The defendant maintained throughout the negotiations that those items were not negotiable under § 10-153d of the General Statutes and should be determined unilaterally by the board or its agents.

As of the time of the institution of this action the [162 Conn. 570] parties had not agreed on a contract covering the 1969-70 school year or the 1970-71 school year. In March, 1969,

Page 530

the defendant board proposed a new work year, vacation schedule and salary schedule for department chairmen, coordinating teachers and subject area specialists. The program involved substantially different lengths of work day, length of work year and salary schedule for these teachers and was to take effect July 1, 1969. Parts of the new salary schedule, the changed work year and the vacation schedule were discussed by the defendant Richter directly with the staff members who would be affected, prior to its being presented for negotiations to the plaintiff association. These discussions took place on March 5 and 6, 1969, at special meetings called by the defendant Richter. During April, 1969, the parties negotiated but were unable to agree as to the salary and conditions of employment of department chairmen, co-ordinating teachers and subject area specialists and neither party offered further proposals on these subjects. In May and June, 1969, the defendant Richter, with the knowledge and assent of the defendant board or at the board's direction, interviewed applicants for these positions and 'hired' people to fill them on the basis of the salary schedule and the conditions of employment originally proposed by the defendant board but on which the parties had been unable to agree in negotiations. During the 1969-70 school year, the persons 'hired' to fill these positions performed duties and received pay based on the salary schedule and conditions of employment originally proposed by the board but on which the parties had been unable to agree in negotiations. In July, 1969, the defendant Richter, acting with the knowledge and assent of the defendant board, or at [162 Conn. 571] the board's direction, prepared and presented to those persons 'hired' to fill these positions written contracts of employment for their signature, which incorporated the original proposal of the board but did not accord with any agreement negotiated with the plaintiff association. In filling these positions for the 1969-70 school year, Richter applied the 'posting' provisions of the 1968-69 contract between the parties.

On February 13, 1970, during negotiations for the 1970-71 salary schedule, the board for the first time proposed that the teaching staff be differentiated into two categories: the first category consisting of those teachers who would work the same hours per day and the same number of days per year as heretofore and the second category consisting of teachers who would work more hours per day and more days per year and who would be paid on a separate and different salary schedule. During negotiations this became known as the 'extended plan' or 'resource teacher program.' Despite the failure of the parties to reach agreement on the working conditions of the 'extended plan' or 'resource teacher program,' the board's negotiators informed the association that the board, in an executive session held on April 1, 1970, while negotiations were still going on, had adopted the following resolution: That the position of resource teacher be filled at the beginning of the second semester of the 1970-71 school year; and, further, that the superintendent solicit the advice of representatives of the association, the superintendent's advisory council, the administrative council and other interested faculty members and groups in the further development of the existing tentative guide for this position, with a target date for a report to [162 Conn. 572] the board at the second meeting of the board in June and, if necessary, again at the second meeting of the board in September. On April 6, 1970, the defendant Richter, acting as superintendent and with the knowledge and assent of the defendant board, informed the entire teaching staff of the West Hartford school system of the adoption of its resolution by distributing copies of it in the Staff Bulletin.

Since the institution of this action, on or before September 4, 1970, the parties have agreed on a contract covering the 1970-71 school year. They are still in dispute, however, with regard to the issues presented in this action, and this discord could seriously impair the negotiations that are now being conducted with respect to a contract for the next school year.

Page 531

The questions which have been reserved for our advice are: (a) Are the following items conditions of employment with respect to which the defendant board of education has a duty to negotiate with the plaintiff under the provisions of § 10-153d of the General Statutes, as amended: class size, teacher load, length of school day, school calendar, extracurricular activities, and binding arbitration of grievances? (b) If the answer to (a) is 'Yes,' does the defendant board of education violate its duty to negotiate with the plaintiff association by doing any of the following: (i) Not making counterproposals on these topics, or (ii) taking the position that such matters be reserved for unilateral action by the board, or (iii) taking the position that such matters be included in the 'board prerogatives' clause of the contract? (c) Did the actions of the defendant Richter in communicating directly with teachers and members of the association about the new work year, vacation schedule and salary schedule proposed by [162 Conn. 573] the board for department chairmen, coordinating teachers and subject area specialists and about the 'extended plan' or 'resource teacher program' violate § 10-153b of the General Statutes? (d) Did the actions of the defendant board of education in unilaterally implementing the above-mentioned proposals after the parties had failed to reach an agreement on them violate the provisions of § 10-153d?

In order to determine the questions presented it is necessary to examine the powers and duties of boards of education in the light of the statutory provisions of the Teacher Negotiation Act, §§ 10-153a to 10-153h of the General Statutes. The chief function of local boards of education is to serve as policy maker on behalf of the state and for the local community on educational matters. The state has had a vital interest in the public schools from the earliest colonial times. Maitland v. Town of Thompson, 129 Conn. 186, 191, 27 A.2d 160. Article VIII, § 1, of the Connecticut constitution provides that '(t)here shall always be free public elementary and secondary schools in the state. The general assembly shall implement this principle by appropriate legislation.' Obviously, the furnishing of education for the general public is a state function and duty. State ex rel. Board of Education v. D'Aulisa, 133 Conn. 414, 418, 52 A.2d 636. By statutory enactment the legislature has delegated this responsibility to the local boards who serve as agents of the state in their communities. Fowler v. Enfield, 138 Conn. 521, 530, 86 A.2d 662. Our statutes have conferred on the local board broad power the discretion over educational policy. Herzig v. Board of Education, 152 Conn. 144, 150, 204 A.2d 827; Board of Education v. Town of Ellington, 151 Conn. 1, 9, 193 A.2d 466. Section 10-220 of the General Statutes sets forth the duties [162 Conn. 574] of boards of education. 2

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Section 10-221 of the General Statutes provides that boards of education shall 'prescribe rules for the management, studies, classification and discipline of the public schools and, subject to the control of the state board of education, the textbooks to be used; shall make rules...

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102 practice notes
  • Honulik v. Town of Greenwich, No. 18046.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • February 24, 2009
    ...constitutes a mandatory subject of bargaining is well settled under federal labor law. West Hartford Education Assn., Inc. v. DeCourcy, 162 Conn. 566, 578-79, 582-84, 295 A.2d 526 (1972) (relying on interpretations by National Labor Relations Board because Connecticut statutes dealing with ......
  • Hartford Principals' and Supervisors' Ass'n v. Shedd
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • March 10, 1987
    ...federal act are of great assistance and persuasive force in the interpretations of it. West Hartford Education Assn., Inc. v. DeCourcy, 162 Conn. 566, 578-79, 295 A.2d 526 (1972)." Board of Education v. Connecticut State Board of Labor Relations, 190 Conn. 235, 241, 460 A.2d 1255 (1983). Th......
  • Lee v. Board of Ed. of City of Bristol
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • June 3, 1980
    ...Murphy v. Berlin Board of Education, 167 Conn. 368, 372, 355 A.2d 265 (1974); West Hartford Education Assn., Inc. v. DeCourcey, 162 Conn. 566, 573, 295 A.2d 526 4 Even a nontenured teacher may have a liberty interest consisting of his reputation or honor that entitles him to due process pro......
  • Town of Winchester v. Connecticut State Bd. of Labor Relations
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • July 11, 1978
    ...act is of great assistance and persuasive force in the interpretation of our own acts." West Hartford Education Assn., Inc. v. DeCourcy, 162 Conn. 566, 579, 295 A.2d 526, 534, and cases Turning to the relevant portion of the NLRA and MERA, we find language that is essentially the same. This......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
102 cases
  • Honulik v. Town of Greenwich, No. 18046.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • February 24, 2009
    ...constitutes a mandatory subject of bargaining is well settled under federal labor law. West Hartford Education Assn., Inc. v. DeCourcy, 162 Conn. 566, 578-79, 582-84, 295 A.2d 526 (1972) (relying on interpretations by National Labor Relations Board because Connecticut statutes dealing with ......
  • Hartford Principals' and Supervisors' Ass'n v. Shedd
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • March 10, 1987
    ...federal act are of great assistance and persuasive force in the interpretations of it. West Hartford Education Assn., Inc. v. DeCourcy, 162 Conn. 566, 578-79, 295 A.2d 526 (1972)." Board of Education v. Connecticut State Board of Labor Relations, 190 Conn. 235, 241, 460 A.2d 1255 (1983). Th......
  • Lee v. Board of Ed. of City of Bristol
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • June 3, 1980
    ...Murphy v. Berlin Board of Education, 167 Conn. 368, 372, 355 A.2d 265 (1974); West Hartford Education Assn., Inc. v. DeCourcey, 162 Conn. 566, 573, 295 A.2d 526 4 Even a nontenured teacher may have a liberty interest consisting of his reputation or honor that entitles him to due process pro......
  • Town of Winchester v. Connecticut State Bd. of Labor Relations
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • July 11, 1978
    ...act is of great assistance and persuasive force in the interpretation of our own acts." West Hartford Education Assn., Inc. v. DeCourcy, 162 Conn. 566, 579, 295 A.2d 526, 534, and cases Turning to the relevant portion of the NLRA and MERA, we find language that is essentially the same. This......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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