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Bd. of Educ. v. Couch

Supreme Court of Oklahoma

January 9, 1917, Opinion Filed

No. 7166


 [***485]  [**65]   [*P1]  KANE, J. This was an action commenced by the defendant in error, plaintiff below, against the plaintiff in error, defendant below, for the purpose of recovering one month's salary as principal in one of the ward schools of the city of Hugo. Upon trial to the court there was judgment for the plaintiff, as prayed for, to reverse which this proceeding in error was commenced. Hereafter the parties will be called "plaintiff" and "defendant," respectively, as they appeared in the trial court.

It seems that the plaintiff was employed by the defendant as principal in one of the ward schools and to teach the sixth and seventh  [**66]  grades for the school year 1912-13, a period of nine months,  [****2]  commencing on the 9th day of September, and continuing to the 16th day of May, at a salary of $ 90 per month; that  [***486]  he entered upon the performance of his duties on the 9th day of September, and continued therein until the 1st day of February, 1913, when an epidemic of smallpox broke out in the city of Hugo; thereupon the board of health, acting under authority conferred upon it by statute, issued an order closing said schools during the prevalence of said disease; thereupon the superintendent of schools instructed the teachers, and among them the plaintiff, to hold themselves in readiness to resume their duties as soon as the schools were permitted to be reopened; that said schools were reopened and plaintiff resumed his duties at the end of one month, and continued to carry out his contract to the end of the term. The defendant admitted the execution of the contract and the facts generally as alleged by the plaintiff, but contended that, the schools being closed by the board of health, acting under legal authority, such action rendered further performance of the contract illegal for both plaintiff and defendant, and therefore no recovery could be had by the plaintiff for [****3]  the month of suspension from duty.

We are of the opinion that the court below decided the case correctly in rendering judgment for the plaintiff. The case of Randolph v. Sanders, 22 Tex. Civ. App. 331, 54 S.W. 621, seems to us to be directly in point. In that case the schools were closed on account of the prevalence of an epidemic disease, and the reopening thereof was temporarily postponed by authority of the city authorities and health officers of the state and city and county during the period of three months. Discussing the effects of this suspension upon the right of one of the school- teachers to recover his salary for the time the school was closed, Mr. Chief Justice James, who delivered the opinion for the court, says:

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1917 OK 42 *; 63 Okla. 65 **; 162 P. 485 ***; 1917 Okla. LEXIS 487 ****; 6 A.L.R. 740


Prior History:  [****1]  Error from District Court, Choctaw County; Summers Hardy, Judge.

Action by O. L. Couch against the Board of Education of the City of Hugo, Choctaw County. There was a Judgment for plaintiff, and defendant brings error. Affirmed.

Disposition: Judgment affirmed.


schools, resume, teachers