Kentwood Schools v Marks – 5.22

Kentwood Schools v Marks
Digest no. 5.22

Section 27(i)

Cite as: Kentwood Schools v Marks, unpublished opinion of the Kent Circuit Court, issued April 7, 2000 (Docket No. 99-02921-AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Esther D. Marks
Employer: Kentwood Schools
Date of decision: April 7, 2000

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CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: Under Section 27(i)(1), whether the terms and conditions of claimant’s employment are similar to previous work for the employer, is irrelevant to the issue of eligibility when a claimant has a contract in fact for the following school year.

FACTS: Claimant had been a paraprofessional reading instructor. Employer laid claimant off due to budget and personnel cutbacks. Claimant was able to bid on different positions, with equivalent pay, conditions and benefits. Given her seniority claimant was assured work in one of those positions if she wanted it. Instead claimant chose a non-instructional position with a significant decrease in hours and benefits. Claimant had a contract for employment for the following school year.

DECISION: Claimant is ineligible for benefits under Section 27(i).

RATIONALE: “Even where there exists a reasonable assurance of continued employment, benefits may not be denied unless the terms and conditions of such employment are reasonably similar to those of the previous year.” Paynes v Detroit Board of Education, 150 Mich App 358 (1986). But, the existence of a contract negates any requirement for such similar terms and conditions. Paynes, supra, at 372, 373 and 378.

As the claimant had a contract for the following school term, the terms and conditions of claimant’s new employment were irrelevant on the issue of eligibility. The benefit ineligibility provisions of Section 27(i)(1) apply where there is 1) an actual contract or work, or, 2) reasonable assurance of work under similar terms and conditions in an instructional, research or principal administrative capacity.

Digest Author: Board of Review (original digest here)
Digest Updated:
11/04

Thompson v Chippewa Valley School District – 5.18

Thompson v Chippewa Valley School District
Digest no. 5.18

Section 27(i)

Cite as: Thompson v Chippewa Valley School Dist, unpublished opinion of the Macomb Circuit Court, issued August 28, 1997 (Docket No. 96-7631-AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Frances A. Thompson
Employer: Chippewa Valley School District
Docket no.: B93-15538-131205
Date of decision: August 28, 1997

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CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: A claimant is ineligible under Section 27(i) where she has received reasonable assurance of re-employment, despite the fact the assigned employment included a 7% pay reduction.

FACTS: After a millage failure it was anticipated that bus drivers could expect a reduction of one hour to an hour and a half per day in the following year. Thereafter, the school system gave the claimant and other drivers a letter of assurance which indicated the employer believed it would re-employ them in positions similar to what they had in the prior academic year. Claimant asserted she would be experiencing a substantial reduction in hours. But claimant’s hourly earnings were raised from $13.38 to $14.32. The net reduction would be 7%, from $501 to $465 weekly. There was no adverse impact on her fringe benefits.

DECISION: Claimant is ineligible under the school denial provisions of Section 27(i).

RATIONALE: Denial of benefits to a school district employee is authorized under Section 27(9) if she was reasonably assured of re-employment and the economic terms and conditions of employment in the new year were reasonably similar to those of the preceding year.

Digest Author: Board of Review (original digest here)
Digest Updated: 7/99

Hofmeister v Armada Area Schools – 5.21

Hofmeister v Armada Area Schools
Digest no. 5.21

Section 27(i)

Cite as: Hofmeister v Armada Area Schools, Macomb Circuit Court No. 96-3916AE (November 20, 1996), lv den Mich App No. 199806 (June 9, 1997).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Patricia Hofmeister
Employer: Armada Area Schools
Docket no.: B93-00816-R01-131220
Date of decision: November 20, 1996

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CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: Notice of prospective tentative layoff does not negate reasonable assurance contained in collective bargaining agreement.

FACTS: Claimant was a school teacher during the 1991-1992 school year. Her employment was governed by a collective bargaining agreement. The school district was operating with a deficit. A millage election was scheduled for June 8, 1992. As a contingency, teacher layoffs were discussed and the union was so notified.

The June 8, 1992 millage increase failed. Another election was scheduled for September 14, 1992. On June 12, 1992 the school board sent a letter to the union that listed the claimant and others as employees who would be laid off if the millage again failed. On August 19, 1992, pursuant to the bargaining agreement, a letter was sent to the claimant notifying her she would be laid off on September 29, 1992 if the millage did not pass. But, the millage did pass and on September 15, 1992 the claimant and others were notified they were no longer subject to the possibility of layoff.

DECISION: The claimant was subject to the school denial period set forth in Section 27(i)(1).

RATIONALE: The claimant’s employment was governed by a contract, the CBA. The CBA provided for employment until layoff notices were provided and became effective. Layoff notices were not provided until August 19, 1992. The claimant would not have been laid off until September 29, 1992. Thus, during the period for which claimant was seeking unemployment benefits she had a contract for the 1992-93 school year, which provided reasonable assurance. Consequently, she was not entitled to benefits.

Digest Author: Board of Review (original digest here)
Digest Updated:
7/99

Brannen v Grand Rapids Public Schools – 5.19

Brannen v Grand Rapids Public Schools
Digest no. 5.19

Section 27(i)

Cite as: Brannen v Grand Rapids Pub Schools, unpublished opinion of the Kent Circuit Court, issued June 14, 1996 (Docket No. 95-5003-AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Malcolm E. Brannen
Employer: Grand Rapids Public Schools
Docket no.: B92-30594-R01-124781W
Date of decision: June 14, 1996

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CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: Assurance of re-employment at 50% of the preceding years’ earnings is not a reasonable assurance of re-employment.

FACTS: The claimant was employed concurrently by two educational institutions. One was the Grand Rapids Public Schools [GRPS]. The other was Grand Rapids Community College [GRCC]. Seventy percent (70%) of his total earnings were the result of his work with the GRPS. The remaining 30% were from GRCC. In July 1992 the claimant was informed his position with the GRPS was being eliminated. At the end of the 1991-1992 academic year GRCC informed him he had a “reasonable assurance” of re-employment in the fall of `92. However, his earnings would be reduced from $14,000 to $7,000 a year if he was not re-employed by the GRPS. The claimant filed a claim for benefits on July 2, 1992. On July 30, 1992 he was recalled by the GRPS. On August 12, 1992 he was offered [and later accepted] a position as a full-time employee of the GRCC at $14,000 per year.

DECISION: The claimant was not subject to the school denial period contained in Section 27(i).

RATIONALE: GRPS conceded that with respect to the GRPS there was no reasonable assurance of continued employment. However, the GRPS asserted claimant should not receive benefits for the period between academic years as he had received “reasonable assurance” from GRCC. The court found that the GRCC had only guaranteed re-employment at half his previous earnings. The court concluded that the, “reasonably assured economic terms of his continued employment would by no stretch of the imagination be reasonably similar to those in the preceding year.”

Digest Author: Board of Review (original digest here)
Digest Updated:
7/99

Minick v Ann Arbor Public Schools – 5.17

Minick v Ann Arbor Public Schools
Digest no. 5.17

Section 27(i)

Cite as: Minick v Ann Arbor Pub Schools, unpublished opinion of the Washtenaw County Circuit Court, issued April 30, 1991 (Docket No. 90-39906 AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Timothy Minick
Employer: Ann Arbor Public Schools
Docket no.: B89-10215-113204W
Date of decision: April 30, 1991

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COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: A school district claimant may be subject to the school denial period even if employed at a non-school location if his or her employment is linked to the academic year.

FACTS: Claimant was employed as a “library community assistant” by the Ann Arbor Community Schools. He enforced rules of behavior at the Ann Arbor Public Library which was operated by the school district. His contract provided he would work a maximum of 191 days, from the start of the school year until its conclusion. On May 22, 1989, the claimant was informed his last day of service would be May 31, 1989, and that he would be re-employed in the fall with his first day to be determined. He returned to work on September 1, 1989.

Claimant asserted he should not be subject to the school denial period. He argued the denial period had been expanded into an area not contemplated by the legislature — a public library system serving the public at large on a year-round basis. He further argued his services were in no way linked to the academic cycle. He contended Section 27(i) was intended to be applied to personnel whose services were linked to the academic year.

DECISION: The claimant was subject to the school denial period of the MES Act, Section 27(i).

RATIONALE: The court found a link existed between the claimant’s job and the academic year. The record indicated the need for library security coincided with the library’s use by students during the school year. The court also found that the claimant’s job category fell within the provisions of Section 27(i)(2) and that he was given reasonable assurance as he was informed his job would again be available in the fall.

Digest Author: Board of Review (original digest here)
Digest Updated:
7/99

Lansing School District v Beard – 5.16

Lansing School District v Beard
Digest no. 5.16

Section 27(i)

Cite as: Lansing School Dist v Beard, unpublished per curiam of the Court of Appeals of Michigan, issued November 29, 1990 (Docket No. 118334).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Dan F. Beard
Employer: Lansing School District
Docket no.: B87-16460-107488
Date of decision: November 29, 1990

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COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: Whether there is reasonable assurance is a question of fact to be determined in light of the totality of the circumstances.

FACTS: The claimant was a vocational data processing teacher. Because he was not certified as a vocational education teacher, the claimant was subject to annual authorization. On May 5, 1987, the claimant received a letter requesting that he make plans for obtaining his temporary or permanent vocational educational certification. In this letter, the claimant was informed that all jobs held by teachers who were not vocationally certified by July 1, 1987, would be posted for other applicants. On May 22, 1987, the claimant received a memorandum stating that unless specifically notified to the contrary, he had reasonable assurance of employment for the following school year.

DECISION: The claimant was not ineligible under Section 27(i).

RATIONALE: The May 22, 1987, memorandum did not constitute adequate assurance as a matter of law. Whether there was reasonable assurance was a question of fact. The ambiguity contained in the May 22, 1987, memorandum and the existence of the May 5, 1987, memorandum indicated that the claimant had not received adequate assurance of continued employment sufficient to bar his claim for benefits.

Digest Author: Board of Review (original digest here)
Digest Update:
7/99

Wilkerson v Jackson Public Schools – 5.13

Wilkerson v Jackson Public Schools
Digest no. 5.13

Section 27(i)

Cite as: Wilkerson v Jackson Pub Schools, 170 Mich App 133 (1988); lv den 432 Mich 878 (1989).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Susan A. Wilkerson, et al.
Employer: Jackson Public Schools
Docket no.: B83 18600 96681
Date of decision: May 6, 1988

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COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: The summer breaks for this program for the years at issue were not periods between successive academic years or established and customary vacation periods. As such the provisions of 27(i) were not applicable.

FACTS: The claimants were teachers and aides in the Adult Basic Education program. Students may enroll at any time during the year. Some students complete the program in several class sessions, others take years. Advancement depends on the individual’s progress. Prior to 1982 this program operated year-round with only a two week break in the summer. In 1982 this break was expanded to 4 weeks. In 1983 the break increased to 10 weeks. In the 1983-84 school year the program’s summer instruction was eliminated and the program was to operate on the same schedule as the K-12 school program.

DECISION: Claimants are not ineligible under school denial period of Section 27(i).

RATIONALE: “The length of the ABE instructional periods is determined by budgetary constraints rather than by the length of time needed to complete the requirements of a particular grade or course. Students do not, as a matter of plan, complete any particular grade or course within any specified time period and they re-enter the program after each break at the same instructional level as when class sessions ended. See Bonnette, 165 Mich App at 472-473. We believe that, as a matter of law, the break periods in the ABE program cannot be classified as periods between two successive academic years…. We also conclude that the summer breaks between 1982 and 1984 cannot be considered established and customary vacation periods…. The summer break schedule changed each year during the three-year transition, making the length of the break too unpredictable to be considered established and customary. We agree with the trial court that the legislative purpose of MESA was to protect workers from the ‘economic crunch’ caused by unexpected periods of unemployment such as those created by the school district in this case.”

Digest Author: Board of Review (original digest here)
Digest Updated:
11/90

Billups v Howell Public Schools – 5.07

Billups v Howell Public Schools
Digest no. 5.07

Section 27(i)

Cite as: Billups v Howard Pub Schools, 167 Mich App 407 (1988).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Robert A. Billups, et al.
Employer: Howell Public Schools
Docket no.: B63 06942 R01 95895 et al.
Date of decision: March 22, 1988

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COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: When non-teachers had a tradition of working from 12-26 thru 1-1 and the collective bargaining agreement provided for a 52 week work year, they had a reasonable expectation to work during that period and the layoffs in question did not occur during an established or customary vacation period under 27(i)(2)(b).

FACTS: The claimants were custodial and maintenance employees. Their unions’ bargaining agreement with the employer provided for work on an hourly basis for 52 weeks per year not including holidays. Their work schedule included the days between Christmas and New Years, spring break, and summer vacation.

The claimants were notified of a 1 week layoff 12-26-82 thru 1-1-83. This had never occurred before during this time and the period was not an established holiday for the claimants although classes were not in session.

DECISION: The school denial period is not applicable. Claimants are entitled to benefits under Section 27(i)(2)(b) of the Act.

RATIONALE: Based upon their previous history and their collective bargaining agreement the claimants had a reasonable expectation of working between 12-26 and 1-1. While school may not have been in session, this is not the determinative factor as to what constitutes an “established and customary vacation period”. Rather it refers to periods where the employees did not traditionally work and did not have a collective bargaining agreement to work.

Digest Author: Board of Review (original digest here)
Digest Updated:
11/90

MESC v Falkenstern – 5.15

MESC v Falkenstern
Digest no. 5.15

Section 27(i)

Cite as: MESC v Falkenstern, No. 98730 (Mich App February 23, 1988); lv den 431 Mich 911 (1988).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Ann Falkenstern, et al.
Employer: Grand Rapids Public Schools
Docket no.: B81 85301 82424
Date of decision: February 23, 1988

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COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: In order to impose a school denial period ineligibility upon school district employees who have been given an assurance of employment for the upcoming school year, such assurance must be reasonable in light of the information upon which it was based.

FACTS: In March, 1981 in anticipation of severely strained resources, the employer sent layoff notices to 625 low seniority staff. Afterwards the economic situation worsened, but in June, 1981 letters of reasonable assurance were sent to 266 teachers which stated without explanation “it is anticipated that you will be offered a teacher position for the 1981-82 school year.” In August, some, but not all, the claimants were sent another letter rescinding the earlier assurance of reemployment. Subsequently, the Board of Review held in favor of the claimants on the basis the employer did not have “sufficiently certain budgetary data to offer such assurance”.

DECISION: Claimants did not receive reasonable assurance and are not subject to the school denial period.

RATIONALE: “Although the term ‘reasonable assurance’ does not require a formal written or oral agreement to rehire (Riekse vGrand Rapids Public Schools, 144 Mich App 790, 792; 376 NW2d 194 [1985]), Section 27(i)(1) explicitly states that the assurance must be reasonable. To determine whether the assurance was reasonable, the MESC must necessarily consider the information upon which it was based. The MESC is not required to accept on blind faith any assurance given by a school district to one of its employees. If this were so, the school district could unilaterally render Section 27(i)(1) meaningless and frustrate the underlying purpose of the Michigan Employment Security Act.”

Digest Author: Board of Review (original digest here)
Digest Updated:
11/90

Bonnette v West Ottawa Schools – 5.10

Bonnette v West Ottawa Schools
Digest no. 5.10

Section 27(i)

Cite as: Bonnette v West Ottawa Schools, 165 Mich App 460 (1987); lv den 430 Mich 870 (1988).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Julie Bonnette, et al.
Employer: West Ottawa Public School
Docket no.: B84 01754 96313
Date of decision: August 27, 1987

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COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: “Down time” in a school system’s migrant education program does not qualify as a denial period for purposes of Section 27(i) of the Act where the beginning and end of the down time were not fixed in advance, but rather depended on the growing season for crops .

FACTS: Claimants were employed in a special migrant teaching program operated by employer. The program operated during two segments of the employers academic year. The first part ran from September through October, and the second from March through June.

DECISION: Claimants are not subject to the denial period provisions of Section 27(i) of the Act.

RATIONALE: “In the instant case, the period in question, i.e. the period between the fall and spring segments of the migrant program, while a predictable layoff period because of the history of the program, was not a recess period similar to the recess periods taken for summer vacation for recognized holidays. Rather, the period of unemployment was due to the lack of work resulting from a decrease in the student population. If the migrant population had unexpectedly stayed, West Ottawa would no doubt have continued the employment of Bonnette, Quintalla, and Romos in the program. Thus, we find that even though the period of layoff could be anticipated (since the decrease in the student population could be anticipated) it was not a period established as a customary ‘vacation period’ or holiday recess”.

Digest Author: Board of Review (original digest here)
Digest Updated:
11/90