TEMPE UNION HIGH SCHOOL DIST.
[76 Ariz. 229] William P. Mahoney, Jr., County Atty., Jos. F. Walton, Asst. County Atty., Phoenix, for appellant.
Robert & Price, Phoenix, for appellee.
This is an appeal from a judgment ordering a peremptory writ of mandamus against appellant and from an order denying its motion for a new trial. Appellee and appellant will be hereinafter referred to as plaintiff and defendant respectively.
The facts are that on March 14, 1952, plaintiff was employed as a teacher by defendant and was certified as a 'probationary teacher' under the provisions of chapter 52, Session Laws of 1949, sections 54-1009 to 54-1018, inclusive A.C.A.1939, Cum.Supp.1952. She was about to complete her third year as such teacher and if her contract had been renewed by defendant for the school year 1952-53 at the end of the year she would have been entitled to certification as a 'continuing teacher' and classified as such thereafter.
Under the provisions of this act contracts for both probationary and continuing teachers are automatically renewed at the end of each school year unless on or before March 15 of each year notice is given such teachers that their contracts will be terminated at the end of the current school year or that they are dismissed. In February, 1952, plaintiff received oral notice that her contract would be terminated at the end of the current school year. At that time she was told by the superintendent of the school, in substance, that her discipline in the study hall was not satisfactory. Thereafter on March 14 she received a written notice bearing date March 13, reading as follows:
'This letter is to officially notify you that at a recent meeting of the Board of Education of the Tempe Union High School, it was decided that your contract would not be renewed for the 1952-53 school year.
'F. J. Benedict, Principal.'
Plaintiff thereupon began negotiations with the superintendent and board of education relating to her re-employment but to no avail and on the following June 25 she filed an action of mandamus against defendant to compel the board to renew her contract upon the alleged ground that the written notice to her purporting to terminate her employment as a teacher did not 'incorporate therein' the reasons for terminating the same as required by the statute and not having received a legal notice thereof, her contract under the provisions of the act was automatically renewed and petitioned the court for the issuance of an alternative writ of mandamus compelling the renewal of said contract or to show cause why a peremptory writ should not issue.
A hearing was had on a return to the alternative writ and the court entered judgment ordering the issuance of a peremptory writ directing plaintiff's re-employment as [76 Ariz. 230] such teacher for the year 1952-53, and that she be given a written contract of employment for that year. It is from this judgment and the order denying motions for a new trial that defendant has appealed.
It has assigned a number of errors which present four primary questions to this court for its determination:
1. Does the law require a written notice of termination of their contracts or of their dismissal to be given to probationary teachers?
2. Must such notice state the reason for the dismissal or for termination of their contracts?
3. Is mandamus a proper remedy?
4. Is plaintiff guilty of laches in waiting until June 25 to file her complaint in this case?
The first three questions are so interrelated that an affirmative or negative answer to question No. 1 compels a like answer to questions 2 and 3. The answers to the above questions must be found in the language of the act, the pertinent portions of which are contained in sections 54-1010, 54-1011, 54-1012, 54-1013 and 54-1017, supra:
'54-1010. Notice to teachers.--Subject to the provisions of section 7 (§ 54-1015) of this act, the contract of employment of any probationary teacher or continuing teacher for any school year commencing after June 30, 1950, shall be deemed automatically ...