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06/30/88 Anthony M. Stratton, A v. Wenona Unit District No. 1

June 30, 1988

FATHER AND NEXT FRIEND, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

WENONA UNIT DISTRICT NO. 1 ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, THIRD DISTRICT

ANTHONY M. STRATTON, a Minor by Richard Stratton, his

526 N.E.2d 201, 171 Ill. App. 3d 640, 122 Ill. Dec. 61 1988.IL.1050

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Marshall County; the Hon. Robert Cashen, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

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

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE STOUDER

Plaintiff, Anthony Stratton, by his father Richard Stratton, filed a complaint against the defendants, Wenona School District No. 1. and its board members, requesting the court to grant a writ of certiorari and seeking an injunction to prevent the expulsion of Anthony Stratton. The trial court issued the writ of certiorari, denied the plaintiff's request for an injunction and entered judgment in favor of the defendants.

On appeal the plaintiff argues that the trial court erred in failing to follow the formal requirements of its certiorari order, and that the defendant did not afford Anthony Stratton proper due process when deciding to expel him.

A writ of certiorari may be used to obtain review over a decision by an inferior court or tribunal, where it is shown that the inferior court did not proceed legally, that is, where it did not follow the essential procedural requirements applicable to such cases. (Hartley v. Will County Board of Review (1982), 106 Ill. App. 3d 950, 436 N.E.2d 1073.) Upon the plaintiff's motion, the trial court ordered the writ of certiorari but failed to follow the formal requirements of its certiorari order. Once the writ was issued it became the duty of the defendants to transmit to the court a full and complete transcript of the board meeting held March 26, 1987. This transcript was also to be certified. The certified transcript would have been used to determine the rights of the parties. A proper inquiry under a writ of certiorari is limited to the narrow questions of whether the inferior court or tribunal acted within its jurisdiction and proceeded by the applicable procedural requirements. Hartley v. Will County Board of Review (1982), 106 Ill. App. 3d 950, 436 N.E.2d 1073.

In the present case the trial court issued the writ, then erroneously proceeded to inquire beyond the narrow questions appropriate under the certiorari order by allowing extrinsic evidence beyond the board's minutes to be admitted. Although this procedural error alone is probably grounds for reversal, the error obscures the fundamental issue of whether the plaintiff was afforded sufficient due process.

The fourteenth amendment provides:

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person of within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." U.S. Const., amend. XIV.

Property interests subject to due process protections are created and their dimensions are defined by existing rules or understanding that stem from an independent source such as State law. (Goss v. Lopez (1975), 419 U.S. 565, 42 L. Ed. 2d 725, 95 S. Ct. 729.) Article X, section 1, of the Illinois Constitution (Ill. Const. 1970, art. X, § 1), provides for free public school education for students through the secondary level.

The defendants, acting under color of State law (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 122, par. 1 et seq.), held a meeting on March 26, 1987, to determine what disciplinary action should be taken against Anthony Stratton. Two days before the meeting Anthony's father, Richard, was given a notice of the meeting by the superintendent, Fred Sams. The notice was in the form of a letter to the Strattons. Mrs. Stratton was not formally notified of the hearing by the defendant. The notice explained that the board would consider the expulsion of the plaintiff for gross misconduct, disobedience, and disrespect. The letter ...


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