may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat.§ 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Independent School District 820,
Minnesota Education Association, et al.,
Filed July 29, 1997
Wadena County District Court
File No. C396213
Stephen M. Knutson, Michelle D. Kenney, Knutson, Flynn, Deans & Olsen, P.A., 1900 Minnesota World Trade Center, 30 East Seventh Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for Appellant)
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Randall, Judge, and Schumacher, Judge.
Appellant Independent School District No. 820 (school district) contends the district court erred in determining it had subject matter jurisdiction over respondent Keith Hansen's breach of contract and misrepresentation claims against the school district. We reverse.
It has been "the longstanding rule and repeated holding" that "the proper and only method of appealing school board decisions on teacher related matters is by writ of certiorari." Dokmo v. Independent Sch. Dist. No. 11, 459 N.W.2d 671, 673 (Minn. 1990). In explaining the reason for the rule, the supreme court stated:
Complete jurisdiction cannot, either directly or indirectly, be conferred upon the courts [to review school board decisions] in view of the constitutional division of the powers of government. * * * [Y]et a limited jurisdiction by way of certiorari, and in some cases by statutory appeal, is conferred upon the courts. This is necessarily confined to questions affecting the jurisdiction of the board, the regularity of its proceedings, and, as to merits of the controversy, whether the order or determination in a particular case was arbitrary, oppressive, unreasonable, fraudulent, under an erroneous theory of the law, or without any evidence to support it. A court cannot put itself in the place of the board, try the matter de novo, and substitute its findings for those of the board. * * *
Id. (citation omitted).
Here, the district court determined it had subject matter jurisdiction over Hansen's claims for misrepresentation and breach of contract. In so holding, the district court reasoned:
Because no quasi-judicial proceeding or fact finding occurred, and because no quasi-judicial decision by the school board with reference to this contract was made, Minnesota Statutes § 606.01 does not apply on the facts of this case. The district court does not lack subject matter jurisdiction.
On appeal, the school district argues the district court's decision contradicts Neighborhood Sch. Coalition v. Independent Sch. Dist. No. 279, 484 N.W.2d 440, 441-42 (Minn. App. 1992), review denied (Minn. June 30, 1992), which held that although the school district's determination of new elementary attendance boundaries is an administrative rather than quasi-judicial decision, it nevertheless is reviewable only by a writ of certiorari to this court. We agree.
Although Hansen's claims were labeled as breach of contract and misrepresentation, essentially Hansen sought to challenge the school district's decision to not request him to perform any services during the term of the agreement. See Willis v. County of Sherburne, 555 N.W.2d 277, 282 (Minn. 1996) (court is not bound by the labels attached to the plaintiff's claims, rather it focuses on what the plaintiff is really claiming). Like Neighborhood School Coalition, a review of the school district's decision in this case necessarily requires the court to scrutinize the manner in which the school district discharged its administrative responsibilities. Therefore, we conclude a writ of certiorari was necessary, and the district court did not have jurisdiction over Hansen's claims. See Willis, 555 N.W.2d at 281 (writ of certiorari is warranted when the issue on appeal requires this court to scrutinize the manner in which the county has discharged its administrative function).
The school district further argues the district court erred in relying on Stadum v. Norman County, 508 N.W.2d 217 (Minn. App. 1993), review denied (Minn. Jan. 7, 1994). We agree. Although the supreme court denied review of this court's decision in Stadum, it specifically rejected the rationale of Stadum in Willis. Willis, 555 N.W.2d at 282. In Willis, the supreme court held that a discharged employee cannot demonstrate the county's breach of termination and layoff procedure without implicating the county's decision to discharge him. Id. Similarly, we hold that a review of Hansen's breach of contract and misrepresentation claims would necessarily implicate the school district's decision not to request him to perform any services.