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06/17/88 Dawn Hopwood, By Dennis v. Elmwood Community High

June 17, 1988

FRIEND, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS

v.

ELMWOOD COMMUNITY HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT 322 ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES

STATUTORY IMMUNITY REGARDING SCHOOL DISTRICTS IS CONTROLLED BY SECTION 24-24 OF THE SCHOOL CODE (THE CODE) (ILL. RE

v.

STAT. 1985, CH. 122, PAR. 24-24), WHICH PROVIDES IN PERTINENT PART:



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, THIRD DISTRICT

DAWN HOPWOOD, by Dennis Hopwood, her Father and Next

525 N.E.2d 247, 171 Ill. App. 3d 280, 121 Ill. Dec. 441 1988.IL.953

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Peoria County; the Hon. Stephen Covey, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE WOMBACHER delivered the opinion of the court. STOUDER and BARRY, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE WOMBACHER

This is a personal injury action arising out of injuries sustained by the plaintiff, Dawn Hopwood (Dawn), while enrolled at Elmwood Community High School District 322 (Elmwood High). Dawn's father, Dennis, claims recovery for medical bills under section 15 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (hereinafter the Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 40, par. 1015). Plaintiffs appeal the trial court's entry of summary judgment for the defendant, Lois Silzer, a teacher at Elmwood Community High School, and dismissal of their complaint against the school district.

Dawn injured her knee on October 4, 1982, while participating in a physical education class offered by defendant Elmwood High. Defendant Lois Silzer (Silzer), the instructor, required Dawn to participate in the physical education class during which Dawn's knee collapsed.

Dawn, by her father and next friend, Dennis, alleges Silzer acted recklessly in disregarding Dawn's safety by requiring her to participate in physical education while aware of Dawn's physical limitations.

Dawn claimed she informed Silzer of her previous knee injury, in addition to her doctor's submitting a written excuse to Dawn's former physical education instructor on September 3, 1981, approximately a year earlier, which precluded her from participating in physical education activities for two weeks and thereafter allowed such activity as she was able to tolerate. Thereafter, Silzer required Dawn to provide her with a written excuse from Dawn's mother. Dawn obtained a note from her mother per Silzer's request. In addition to Silzer, Ken Mauer, the principal, claimed they did not receive the doctor's excuse. Plaintiffs also complain the defendant school district was administratively negligent due to certain administrative acts and policies. Specifically, plaintiffs charge certain nonteaching personnel failed to properly forward the doctor's notes Dawn obtained and submitted.

The trial court entered summary judgment for Lois Silzer on this issue of Silzer's willful and wanton misconduct. The trial court dismissed with prejudice the remaining counts of administrative negligence against the school district.

Plaintiffs contend the trial court erred in dismissing the administrative negligence counts against Elmwood Community School District because the acts complained of were not within the scope of the immunity, which covers only direct student-teacher relationships. In other words, plaintiffs complain the trial court improperly expanded instructor's immunity to include administrative negligence. We disagree.

"Teachers and other certificated educational employees shall maintain discipline in the schools, including school grounds which are owned or leased by the board and used for school purposes and activities. In all matters relating to the discipline in and conduct of the schools and the school children, they stand in the relation of parents and guardians to the pupils. This relationship shall extend to all activities connected with the school program and may be exercised at any time for the safety and supervision of the pupils in the absence of their parents or guardians."

This section of the School Code has been deemed to confer immunity upon teachers, certificated educational employees, and school districts from suits for negligence as to any activities connected with school programs. (Kobylanski v. Chicago Board of Education (1976), 63 Ill. 2d 165, 347 N.E.2d 705.) In the absence of proof of willful and wanton misconduct, teachers and certificated educational employees, and school districts are not liable for ordinary negligence. (Kobylanski, 63 Ill. 2d at 172-73.) Do the administrative personnel fall within the parameters of this immunity? The supreme court in Kobylanski held that physical education classes are within the protection of the statutory immunity created by the Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 122, par. 24-24). However, the ...


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