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Chesley v. Jones

Supreme Court of Arizona

June 26, 1956

Horace J. CHESLEY et al., Appellants,
v.
Doris J. JONES, Appellee.

Rehearing Denied Sept. 25, 1956.

[81 Ariz. 2] T. J. Mahoney, Pinal County Atty., Florence, for appellants.

Irwin Cantor, Phoenix, for appellee.

PHELPS, Justice.

This is an appeal from a judgment of the superior court of Pinal County ordering the issuance of a peremptory writ of mandamus, directed to defendants (members of the school board) in that action, commanding them to execute a new contract of employment with the plaintiff.

Plaintiff, Doris Jones, had been employed by defendants to teach at Carver School, Eloy, Arizona. She was certified as a probationary teacher under the provisions of sections 54-1009 to 54-1018, A.C.A.1939, 1952 Cum.Supp. (A.R.S. §§ 15-251 to 15-260), and had nearly completed her

Page 180

third consecutive year in this position. Had her contract been renewed for the school year 1955-1956, at the end of the year she would have been entitled to certification as a 'continuing teacher', acquiring this status under Arizona's 'Teacher Tenure Law.'

On March 14, 1955, plaintiff received a written notice signed by H. J. Chesley, Superintendent of elementary schools, Eloy, Arizona, which is reproduced as follows:

'This is to notify you that your teaching contract will not be renewed for the 1955-56 school term. The board feels that it is unwise to employ three teachers from the same family on continuing contracts in a five-teacher school.

[81 Ariz. 3] 'They feel that this is especially true in view of past criticism from the patrons of the school.

'This action in no way reflects on your teaching ability or character, and both the board and superintendent will do everything possible to aid you in securing another teaching position.'

Plaintiff, with the aid of others, attempted to negotiate with the defendants for a new contract but was not successful. It was shown at the trial that plaintiff was a competent teacher holding an A.B. degree and having taken additional advanced work. Her moral character was attested to as excellent. There was a vacancy for a teacher both at the Carver School and another school within the district for white children at which all teachers employed were white. Three witnesses testified that defendants Chesley and Beauchamp had stated that no more colored teachers would go on tenure. These defendants denied they had made such a statement. Defendant Shay testified that he would not consider hiring a Negro to teach in a white school.

During the first two years plaintiff taught she was unmarried. During the third, plaintiff was married to the son of Mr. and Mrs. P. A. Jones, both of whom are teaching at Carver School, and had signed her teaching contract with her married name, Doris Reager Jones. The following March she was notified that her teaching contract would not be renewed.

Subsequently plaintiff filed a petition in the superior court of Pinal County for a writ of mandamus directing the school board to reinstate her as a teacher and to issue to her a new contract for the year 1955-1956. An alternative writ was issued July 22, 1955, and upon a hearing of the evidence, a peremptory writ of mandamus was issued August 22, 1955, commanding the school board to execute an employment contract to plaintiff for the school year 1955-1956.

Appellants first assign as error that the court below erred in considering the construction of sections 54-1009 through 54-1018, A.C.A.1939, 1952 Cum.Supp. (A.R.S. 15-251 to 15-260), popularly known as the 'Teacher Tenure Act', upon the ground that this question had not been raised by the pleadings of appellants in this action.

The appellants here were defendants below, and their assignment of error based upon the court's consideration of certain matters upon the ground that they were not raised by their own pleadings below is without merit. The issue was raised by ...


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