may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
Bonnie L. McIntyre,
Board of Education of Independent School District No. 625, St. Paul, MN,
Jeffrey G. Lalla, General Counsel, Independent School District No. 625, 360 Colborne Street, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Short, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Peterson, Judge.
Relator Bonnie McIntyre challenges the decision by respondent Board of Education of Independent School District No. 625, St. Paul, Minnesota (Board), not to renew her probationary principal's contract. She argues that the nonrenewal was invalid because the school district failed to comply with Minn. Stat. § 125.17, subd. 2 (1996), which governs evaluation and nonrenewal of probationary teachers. We affirm the Board's decision. Except for the partial transcript, we deny McIntyre's requests to supplement the record on appeal.
The Board hired McIntyre as a principal effective July 1, 1994. In May 1997, the Board voted not to renew McIntyre's contract and to terminate her employment effective June 20, 1997. The following day, the Board notified McIntyre in writing of its decision.
McIntyre filed this certiorari appeal challenging the Board's decision. The school district moved to discharge the writ of certiorari as fatally defective and improperly issued in part because it required the district to include specific documents that were not part of the record. This court denied the motion to discharge the writ and deferred the issue of whether the disputed documents should be included in the record to this panel. McIntyre also filed a separate motion to supplement the record.
D E C I S I O N
Statutory interpretation is a question of law subject to de novo review. Schumacher v. Ihrke, 469 N.W.2d 329, 332 (Minn. App. 1991). The object of statutory interpretation is to determine and give effect to the legislature's intent. Minn. Stat. § 645.16 (1996). "[C]ourts must adhere to the statute's clear language, unless doing so would be inconsistent with the legislature's manifest intent." Pathmanathan v. St. Cloud State Univ., 461 N.W.2d 726, 728 (Minn. App. 1990).
McIntyre argues that the nonrenewal of her contract was invalid because her performance was not evaluated three times each year and because the Board had not adopted a plan for written evaluations of probationary principals. Minn. Stat. § 125.17, subd. 2 (1996), provides:
All teachers in the public schools in cities of the first class during the first three years of consecutive employment shall be deemed to be in a probationary period of employment during which period any annual contract with any teacher may, or may not, be renewed as the school board, after consulting with the peer review committee charged with evaluating the probationary teachers under subdivision 2a or 2b, shall see fit. The school site management team or the school board if there is no school site management team, shall adopt a plan for a written evaluation of teachers during the probationary period according to subdivision 2a. Evaluation by the peer review committee charged with evaluating probationary teachers under subdivision 2a shall occur at least three times each year for a teacher performing services on 120 or more school days * * *.
The Board argues that Minn. Stat. § 125.17, subd. 2, does not apply to principals. For purposes of the Teacher Tenure Act, Minn. Stat. § 125.17, the term teacher includes a person employed as a principal "[u]nless the language or context clearly indicates that a different meaning is intended." Minn. Stat. § 125.17, subd. 1(a) (1996). Neither the language nor the context of Minn. Stat. § 125.17, subd. 2, clearly indicates that the term teacher was not intended to include a person employed as a principal. Minn. Stat. § 125.17, subd. 2, therefore, applies to principals.
However, the requirements that evaluations be conducted three times each year and that the Board adopt a plan for written evaluations pertain only to evaluations conducted under Minn. Stat. § 125.17, subd. 2a, which was repealed in 1993. 1993 Minn. Laws ch. 224, art. 12, § 32(a). Requiring compliance with the literal language of subdivision 2 would require us to conclude that the legislature intended the reference to subdivision 2a to continue to have meaning following the repeal of subdivision 2a. Such a construction would be absurd. When interpreting a statute, courts must presume the legislature did not intend an absurd result. Minn. Stat. § 645.17(1) (1996). We, therefore, conclude that the failure to delete the reference to subdivision 2a from subdivision 2 was an oversight by the legislature and that the legislature did not intend the reference to continue to have meaning following the repeal of subdivision 2a.
Because the requirements that evaluations be conducted three times each year and that the Board adopt a plan for written evaluations pertain only to evaluations conducted under Minn. Stat. § 125.17, subd. 2a, upon repeal of subdivision 2a, those requirements became inoperative. Subdivision 2a was repealed before McIntyre began employment for the school district. Therefore, the school district's failure to evaluate McIntyre three times each year and the Board's failure to adopt a plan for written evaluations did not invalidate the nonrenewal of McIntyre's contract.
McIntyre next argues that the nonrenewal of her contract was invalid because the school district did not have a peer review committee and, thus, did not consult with one before electing to not renew her contract. Minn. Stat. § 125.17, subd. 2b, provides:
A school board and an exclusive representative of the teachers in the district shall develop a probationary teacher peer review process through joint agreement.
Minn. Stat. § 125.17, subd. 2, provides that a school board can elect to not renew a probationary teacher's contract "after consulting with the peer review committee charged with evaluating the probationary teachers under subdivision * * * 2b."
The Board argues that the peer review process is directory, not mandatory. Failure to comply with a directory statutory provision, as opposed to a mandatory statutory provision, does not invalidate the action taken. Sullivan v. Credit River Township, 299 Minn. 170, 177, 217 N.W.2d 502, 507 (1974). One test for distinguishing between directory and mandatory statutes is that if a statute does not express the consequences of a failure to comply with its provisions, it is directory. Id.
The Teacher Tenure Act does not express the consequence of failing to develop a peer review process for probationary teachers. Moreover, if a union and a school board failed to agree on a peer review process, construing the directive that a school board consult with the peer review committee before electing to not renew a probationary teacher's contract to be mandatory could result in teachers receiving tenure without successfully completing the probationary period. Such a result would defeat the purpose of having a probationary period for teachers. We, therefore, conclude that the provisions pertaining to the peer review process are directory. The school district's lack of a peer review committee and the Board's failure to consult with a peer review committee before electing not to renew McIntyre's contract did not invalidate the nonrenewal.
Evidence in the record indicates deficiencies in McIntyre's performance as a principal. An April 9, 1997, memo from her supervisor, Willie Johnson, to the superintendent and assistant superintendent lists the following deficiencies:
A lack of knowledge of public schools and special education legislation.
An inability to articulate a clear vision to staff and constituents.
A lack of support and advocacy from colleagues.
An inability to eliminate or minimize staff and parent concerns regarding educational philosophies and practices.
An inability to foster support or develop collaborative leadership within either of the two elementary school communities.
An insistence upon maintaining a autocratic style of leadership that resulted in hostility toward those who questioned decisions or requested information.
Questionable use of school funds for projects and activities that support educational programs.
Also, notations on Johnson's calendar and event log for the 1995-1996 school year indicate concerns about McIntyre's performance. Johnson's notes from a June 1995 meeting with McIntyre state: (1) "Not an overwhelmingly successful year"; (2) "Got to show more energy for change"; (3) "Get staff support"; (4) "See mentor for support"; and (5) "Build on what has already happened." Substantial evidence supports the Board's decision to not renew McIntyre's contract; no other ground for reversal is present in this case. See Dokmo, 459 N.W.2d at 675 (listing grounds for reversal of a school board's decision).
The papers filed in the trial court, the exhibits, and the transcript of the proceedings, if any, shall constitute the record on appeal in all cases.
Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 110.01; see also Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 115.04 (to the extent possible, Rule 110 applies to certiorari appeals, and trial court shall be read as a reference to the body whose decision is to be reviewed).
Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 110.01 is consistent with the principles underlying judicial review of school board decisions. A writ of certiorari is the exclusive method for reviewing school board decisions because declaratory judgment actions invite de novo review, and constitutional separation of powers principles require that the judiciary refrain from de novo review of administrative actions. Dokmo, 459 N.W.2d at 674-75. "By its very nature, review by writ of certiorari is based solely on the record before the school district." Dokmo, 459 N.W.2d at 675.
McIntyre seeks to include in the record documents pertaining to teacher and administrative staff evaluations and reports addressing diversity concerns. McIntyre does not contend that any of the documents or reports were considered by the Board in the context of this case. It appears that McIntyre is attempting to establish that the school district had adopted the policies set forth in the documents and reports. But no evidence in the record, and nothing in the documents or reports, indicates that the school district had adopted any policies set forth in them.
McIntyre argues that the items can be included in the record because they are matters of public record. See In re Hibbing Taconite Co., 431 N.W.2d 885, 895 (Minn. App. 1988) (granting motion to supplement administrative record because all of the "documents are of public record"). The items in Hibbing Taconite were permits that had been filed with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Here, no evidence in the record, and nothing in the documents or reports, indicates that they were filed or recorded with a public agency. The items appear to be internal school district documents. We, therefore, deny McIntyre's motion to supplement the record with the documents and reports regarding evaluations and diversity issues.
McIntyre also seeks to supplement the record with her resume and a partial transcript of the May 27, 1997, Board meeting. The resume was not part of the record before the Board, so it is not properly before this court. The Board does not object to inclusion of the partial transcript as part of the record on appeal, and a transcript is part of the record on appeal. Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 110.01. We allow the partial transcript into the record.
Finally, McIntyre seeks to supplement the record with videotapes of the May 27, 1997, Board meeting. Because a partial transcript of the part of the Board meeting pertaining to McIntyre was prepared, it is unclear how the videotapes would aid this court's review. Moreover, if either party wanted to include in the record additional parts of the transcript not included in the partial transcript, an additional transcript should have been ordered and prepared. See Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 110.02, subd. 1 (appellant shall order transcript within 10 days after appeal is filed; if respondent deems additional transcript to be necessary, respondent shall either order transcript or file a motion in trial court to compel appellant to do so within 10 days after service of notice of partial transcript). The rules do not authorize a party to request this court to view a
videotape in lieu of preparation of a transcript. We deny McIntyre's motion to supplement the record with the videotapes.
 Having concluded that the provisions pertaining to the peer review process are directory, we need not decide whether the directive that a school board consult with a peer review committee before electing to not renew a probationary teacher's contract became inoperative upon repeal of Minn. Stat. § 125.17, subd. 2a.