APPEAL FROM THE CLAY CIRCUIT COURT, The Honorable Ernest Yelton, Judge, Cause No. CV-84-309.
Neal, J., Ratliff, C.j. and Staton, J. Concur.
Plaintiff-appellant, Paul Chambers (Chambers), appeals a judgment of the Clay Circuit Court, which entered summary judgment in favor of defendant-appellees, Central School District of Greene County et al. (School), on Chamber's suit for breach of his contract as a principal for School.
Chambers began his employment as a high school principal by School pursuant to a written contract, which ran from July 13, 1981 to July 13, 1983. On March 18, 1982, School's board granted Chambers a three-year extension by executing three separate, written contracts. The contracts were for the 1983-84, 1984-85, 1985-86 school years, the ending date of the last contract being July 13, 1986. Each contract contained a $1,000.00/year raise. On August 15, 1984, School's superintendent notified Chambers by letter that School's board was to meet on September 20 to consider the cancellation of his indefinite contract. Chambers was also informed that School intended to utilize the cancellation procedure set forth in IND. CODE 20-6.1-4-11. Counsel for Chambers responded with a letter dated August 20, 1984. In its, Chambers contended he was not employed under an indefinite contract and the procedural machinery of IND. CODE 20-6.1-4-11 was inapplicable because he was an administrator. Chambers did request a hearing, on the assumption that School had the authority to cancel his contract. By a letter dated August 23, 1984, School informed Chambers that, per his request, a pre-hearing had been scheduled for September 14, and a hearing before the board was set for September 18. Chambers did not attend either proceeding. At its regular meeting on September 20 the board voted to terminate Chamber's contract as a principal and also his indefinite teacher's contract. Chambers was notified by a letter dated that same day.
Chambers filed his eight-count complaint on October 4, 1984 alleging, inter alia, that School breached his definite, written contract. Chambers then filed a motion for partial summary judgment, claiming there was no dispute that his relationship with School was governed by a definite, written contract. School responded and admitted the existence of the series of contracts, but claimed a dispute as to the applicability of the statutory provisions for contract cancellation vis-a-vis its relationship with Chambers. Accordingly, the trial court granted partial summary judgment in favor of Chambers. Chambers then filed a second motion for partial summary judgment, stating there was no issue of fact that his definite, written contract with School was for three years and, by acting pursuant to IND. CODE 20-6.1-4-11, School unlawfully terminated his contract. School countered with its own motion for partial summary judgment, alleging it was required to follow the statutory cancellation procedure, Chambers did not exhaust his administrative remedies before seeking redress in the trial court and thus was barred from obtaining relief, and his cause of action represented an impermissible collateral attack. The trial court held a hearing on the motions. It found that the definite, written contract was for a three-year period, but that School could use the statutory cancellation procedure to terminate Chamber's indefinite contract as well as the definite, written contract. The trial court then entered summary judgment on those issues, prompting Chambers to institute this appeal.
Chambers presents the following issues, contending the trial court acted contrary to law in:
I. Finding that the definite, written contract between Chambers and School was supplemental to, and dependent upon, the existence of an indefinite contract between them, such that cancellation of the latter automatically cancelled the former;
II. Finding that School's notice to Chamber's of its intent to cancel his indefinite contract was sufficient notice of its intent to cancel his definite, written contract; and
III. Finding that IND. CODE 20-6.1-4-10.5 and -11, which provide the grounds and procedure for cancellation of an indefinite contract, are equally applicable to the cancellation of a definite contract.
Our standard of review in an appeal from a summary judgment is well established. We ascertain whether the pleadings, affidavits, answers to interrogatories, responses to requests for admission, and depositions, when read in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, reveal any genuine issues of material facts, and if not, whether the trial court correctly applied the law. Shallenberger v. Scoggins-Tomlinson, Inc. (1982), Ind. App., 439 N.E.2d 699. In performing our function of review we stand in the position of the trial court and consider the same matters as it does. Moll v. South Central Solar Systems, Inc. (1981), Ind. App., 419 N.E.2d 154.
ISSUE I: Indefinite/Definite ...