Judicial Review Without Participating In the Administrative Hearing
In Board of Education of Bethany Community Unit School District No. 301 v. Regional Board of School Trustees, 255 Ill. App. 3d 763, 627 N.E.2d 1175, 194 Ill. Dec. 533 (1994) (Bethany), residents of the Bethany school district petitioned a regional board of school trustees to detach the residents' property from the district and annex it into the Sullivan school district (see Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 122, par. 7-6).
The Sullivan school district was notified of the petition, but it declined to make a formal appearance before the regional board of trustees.
The regional board granted the petition.
The Bethany school district then filed a complaint in the circuit court (see Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 122, par. 7-7).
The Sullivan school district was not named as a defendant and was not notified of the complaint.
Bethany found that the annexing district was a "party of record" despite its failure to participate in the underlying administrative proceedings.
The action turned on whether the Sullivan school district was a "party of record" pursuant to section 3-107. the court noted that the record gave no indication that the Sullivan school district took any action after receiving notice of the administrative hearing.
Nonetheless, the court found that the annexing district was a party of record.
We quote at length the analysis provided by Bethany:
"While some cases suggest a person need not be made a party to a review action where no action was taken to become a party (see Burgess v. Board of Fire & Police Commissioners (1991), 209 Ill. App. 3d 821, 829, 568 N.E.2d 430, 435, 154 Ill. Dec. 430 (held, chief of police was not a party of record to the administrative proceeding where he did not file the charges which were the basis for the discharge order or take any action to become a party of record)), we find Sullivan School District was a party of record to the proceedings, even though it did not participate in the hearing.
Once it received notice of the initial Regional Board hearing, it was a party to the proceedings and had to be made a defendant in the review action.
To hold otherwise would suggest Sullivan School District was not a party which would be bound by the judgment.
Its status as a party is not affected by its failure to appear and participate.
Sullivan School District's rights, as the annexing district, would necessarily be affected by the decision to grant or deny the petition.
Therefore, it must be considered a party of record, regardless of whether it participated in the hearing.
It thus had to be named as a defendant in the administrative review action.
Because plaintiff failed to name and serve Sullivan School District within the 35-day time frame, plaintiff's petition should have been dismissed. See Dulaney v. Schaffer (1963), 41 Ill. App. 2d 213, 190 N.E.2d 512 (held, Lawrenceville School District, which was not a party to the administrative review proceedings in the circuit court or on appeal, was a necessary party as its rights as the annexing district would be affected by the petition for detachment); Board of Education of Waverly Community Unit School District No. 6 v. Nickell (1951), 410 Ill. 98, 101 N.E.2d 438.
Additional support for this is found in section 7-7 of the School Code, which provides:
'Any resident who appears at the hearing or any petitioner or board of education of any district affected may within 35 days after a copy of the decision sought to be reviewed was served by registered mail upon the party affected thereby file a complaint for a judicial review of such decision in accordance with the Administrative Review Law and the rules adopted pursuant thereto.' (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 122, par. 7-7.)
If Sullivan School District can appeal the decision of the Regional Board without participating at the hearing or being represented by counsel, it should be considered a party of record for administrative review proceedings." Bethany, 255 Ill. App. 3d at 766-67, 627 N.E.2d at 1177-78.
Implicit in Bethany is the recognition that the term "party of record" in the Administrative Review Law did not expand the rights of absent districts beyond what was already granted by the School Code.
Despite looking at whether the annexing district was "bound" and "affected" by the judicial review, Bethany was based on mandatory joinder of those who had been parties of record to the administrative proceeding as required by section 3-107.
Bethany provides no discussion of who is a "necessary party" beyond determining those who were a "party of record" to the administrative proceeding.
Bethany relied on language in the School Code, and precedent interpreting the School Code, that stated an "affected" district automatically became a party. Bethany, 255 Ill. App. 3d at 766-67, 627 N.E.2d at 1177-78 (the annexing district would be affected by a petition for a detachment under the School Code (citing Dulaney v. Schaffer, 41 Ill. App. 2d 213, 190 N.E.2d 512 (1963), and quoting Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 122, par. 7-7-"'any district affected'")).
Bethany concluded that the School Code explicitly provided that absent districts that were affected by the decision had the right to seek judicial review.
The School Code also required those districts to be provided notice of the administrative decision and that any district affected may file a complaint for judicial review within 35 days after being served with the administrative decision. Bethany, 255 Ill. App. 3d at 767, 627 N.E.2d at 1178 (relying on Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 122, par. 7-7).
Bethany concluded that if a district can seek judicial review without participating in the administrative hearing, it should be considered a party of record.