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Wallis v. Crook County School District

April 23, 1973

WALLIS, APPELLANT,
v.
CROOK COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT, RESPONDENT



Appeal from Circuit Court, Crook County. John M. Copenhaver, Judge.

David R. Dierdorff, Bend, argued the cause for appellant. With him on the briefs were Dierdorff & Babb, Bend.

James B. Minturn, Prineville, argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief were Bodie & Minturn, Prineville.

Thornton, Judge. Schwab, Chief Judge, and Foley, Judge.

Thornton

This appeal involves the construction and application of a statute providing for the renewal of contracts of certain public school teachers and administrators. ORS 342.508 (2).

Plaintiff was the elementary school coordinator of defendant school district and had been so employed for some 10 years. Plaintiff brought a mandamus action to compel defendant to execute and deliver to him a valid contract employing him for the 1972-73 school year. Following commencement of this action the trial court issued an alternative writ requiring defendant to execute and deliver the subject contract or show cause why it should not do so. After a trial on the merits the court denied the peremptory writ

and dismissed plaintiff's petition. Plaintiff appeals. We reverse.

Did the trial court err:

(1) In ruling that notice of nonrenewal mailed by ordinary mail to plaintiff on March 15, 1972, and received by plaintiff on March 16, complied with the notice requirement of ORS 342.508 (2);

(2) In overruling defendant's contention that prior oral notice plus a copy of school board minutes purportedly advising plaintiff that his employment was being terminated, constituted sufficient notice under ORS 342.508 (2); and

(3) In overruling defendant's contention that plaintiff had waived formal written notice by his conduct, or was equitably estopped thereby to insist on such notice.

Defendant is a school district with more than 800 but less than 4,500 average daily pupil membership. On March 15, 1972, the superintendent of defendant district wrote and mailed to plaintiff by ordinary mail a letter informing plaintiff that his contract would not be renewed. Plaintiff received the letter at his home the following day, March 16. On March 31 plaintiff delivered to defendant a written acceptance of contract for the next school year. By letter dated April 4, defendant notified plaintiff that it would not issue such contract.

The controlling statute,*fn1 ORS 342.508 (2), reads:

"Each district school board of a district subject

to this section shall given written notice, by March 15 of the year the contract with the teacher or administrator described in subsection (1) of this section terminates, to the teacher or administrator of the renewal or nonrenewal of his contract. If the contract is not renewed, the notice of such nonrenewal and the reasons therefor shall be given in the manner prescribed by ORS 342.513. If the school board fails to give notice by March 15, the contract shall be considered renewed for the following school year at a salary not less than the annual salary being received at the time of ...


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