Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

SCOMA v. CHICAGO BOARD OF EDUCATION

November 13, 1974

JULIE SCOMA AND RICHARD SCOMA, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
THE CHICAGO BOARD OF EDUCATION ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Decker, District Judge.

    MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiffs, parents residing in the City of Chicago, have filed a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction and declaratory judgment against defendants from interfering with plaintiffs' decision to educate their two school-age children*fn1 at home, by the enforcement of the state compulsory attendance statute.*fn2 Defendants are the Chicago Board of Education, the Superintendent of Schools for the Chicago Board of Education, the Administrator of the Division of School Attendance for the Chicago Board of Education, the Director of Pupil Attendance for the Chicago Board of Education, the Acting District Superintendent for School District Three of the Chicago Board of Education, the Principal of the Ravenswood Elementary School, and the Truant Officer of the Ravenswood School.

In their five-count complaint, plaintiffs assert that they have withdrawn their children from the Ravenswood Elementary School in order to educate them privately at home under a plan which they believe is adequate to ensure that the children receive the minimum requisite educational skills and values, and which they believe qualifies their home instruction as a "private school" under the Illinois Compulsory Attendance Act, Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 122, § 26-1. That statute exempts from compulsory attendance at a public school:

  "(1) Any child attending a private or a parochial
  school where children are taught the branches of
  education taught to children of corresponding age and
  grade in the public schools, and where the
  instruction of the child in the branches of education
  is in the English language;"

As interpreted by the Illinois Supreme Court in People v. Levisen, 404 Ill. 574, 578, 90 N.E.2d 213, 215 (1950), the term "private school" can include private home instruction if the child receives "a type of instruction and discipline having the required quality and character." This home instruction, said the court, must be "at least commensurate with the standards prescribed for the public schools."

In preparation for the withdrawal of their children from the public school, the plaintiffs began contacting defendants in an attempt to secure approval for their proposed plan as early as December, 1973. At that time, they were told by the Administrator of School Attendance and the School Board's attorney that there were no established procedures for prior approval of a home instruction plan, and that parents who withdraw their children from public school will be prosecuted under the Illinois statute. Three months later, plaintiffs, through their attorney, wrote to the Administrator of School Attendance seeking a form of "declaratory judgment" that their proposed plan "meets minimal permissable [sic] educational standards", and that "criminal prosecution will not be forthcoming". They also sought a statement outlining the nature and criteria of the standards to be used in evaluating their plan, and the current procedures for ensuring compliance with the statute. The Administrator responded that he had no authority to render such a "declaratory judgment", that only the school Principal and the District Superintendent had the authority to initiate criminal prosecution, and the plaintiffs would hear from them "forthwith".

On April 19, 1974, plaintiffs transferred their children from the public school to home instruction and informed defendant Principal of their plan. On May 3, 1974, and again on May 17, 1974, plaintiffs received a telephone call from defendant Truant Officer who, on the latter occasion, "threatened to officially seize and remove [the] children from their home, and demanded that the children return to Ravenswood School on or before May 20, 1974. On May 21, 1974, plaintiffs filed this complaint.

Count I alleges that as a result of their actions, defendants deprived plaintiffs of their rights, privileges and immunities guaranteed by the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution, and Article I, § 12 of the Illinois Constitution, S.H.A.

In Count II, plaintiffs allege that the Illinois Compulsory Attendance Act, Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 122, §§ 26-1 to 26-11, is unconstitutional as applied to plaintiffs by defendants in that it deprives them of substantive due process and equal protection of the laws in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, and in that it is vague and uncertain as applied to them. In Count III, plaintiffs claim that the Illinois Compulsory Attendance Act is unconstitutional on its face in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, by its use of "public schools" as the statutory standard for an adequate private school.

Count IV invokes 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3) in alleging that defendants conspired to deny plaintiffs their constitutional rights. In Count V, plaintiffs allege that defendants, knowing that the wrongs conspired to be done were about to be committed, neglected or refused to prevent such wrong, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1986.

I. Motion to Dismiss

A. Lack of Jurisdiction

Defendants assert that this court lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter of the complaint, and move to dismiss pursuant to F.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). Plaintiffs have invoked federal jurisdiction under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. ยง 1331, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.