APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FOURTH DISTRICT
538 N.E.2d 195, 182 Ill. App. 3d 507, 131 Ill. Dec. 7 1989.IL.629
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Macon County; the Hon. John L. Davis, Judge, presiding.
PRESIDING JUSTICE McCULLOUGH delivered the opinion of the court. KNECHT and SPITZ, JJ., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE MCCULLOUGH
The circuit court of Macon County granted defendant's motion for directed verdict on the question of wilful and wanton misconduct at the close of plaintiff's case. On appeal, plaintiff argues the circuit court erred in granting the directed verdict and in refusing to allow evidence of two out-of-court statements allegedly made by a principal of the defendant school district.
Aja Templar was a nine-year-old girl in third grade during the 1986-87 school year at Johns Hill Magnet School, Decatur, Illinois. Johns Hill Magnet School, which educates children in kindergarten through the fourth grade, is directly adjacent to Washington School, which educates ESP children. ESP refers to Educational Stabilizing Program and is designed for students whose families move their residences frequently. Both schools accepted students from school buses which dropped them off at the north side of Johns Hill Magnet School on John Street. Approximately 13 buses discharged at this location.
Kenya Sayles is a member of a family which moved frequently throughout the Decatur community. Kenya was in fourth grade at Washington School during the 1986-87 school year. At some point after the 1986 Christmas vacation, Kenya moved into Aja's neighborhood. At that time Kenya, his brothers, and a friend first appeared at Aja's bus stop near her home. The time period concerned here is the last week, December 1986, to the incident giving rise to the suit February 6, 1987. The school district employees first received complaints on behalf of plaintiff the middle of January 1987.
After Kenya began using the bus stop near Aja's home, incidents between Aja and Kenya began. Alleged incidents included rock throwing, hitting, hair pulling, and name calling. Kenya was also allegedly involved in rock throwing and name calling of Aja and her sisters, and pulling of the girls' hair at the bus discharge area. Aja's twin sister testified that the difficulties occurred on the bus as well, but Aja testified that Kenya did not bother her and her sisters while they rode the bus to school. Kenya had disciplinary problems before moving to his new home in Aja's neighborhood.
Aja's father, Robyrtt Templar, complained to several school officials by telephone concerning the harassment of his daughters. Plaintiff, Aja's mother, claims she listened to the conversations from a speakerphone. The school officials who were telephoned were Mary Polite, the principal of Aja's school, Barry Buttz, the Washington School principal, and Lawrence Reed, defendant's employee in charge of bus pickup points. Mary Polite was also in charge of two teachers who supervised the bus discharge area, Muriel Sumpter and John Henry.
The telephone calls allegedly made by Robyrtt include the following. On January 14, 1987, Robyrtt telephoned Reed, told him the problem his daughters were experiencing with Kenya and his brothers, and complained that the Sayles boys should not be let off the bus at the point where the Templar girls waited until their school doors were opened in the morning. On January 21, Robyrtt, telephoned Buttz and told him that Kenya had slapped, shoved, hit, and threw snowballs at Aja and her sisters on school property. Robyrtt telephoned Polite on January 29 and complained about the same incidents that he spoke to Buttz about. Robyrtt telephoned Buttz again on February 5 and claimed the harassment by Kenya had not stopped. That same day Robyrtt telephoned Reed, explained the problem to him again, and complained that the problem had not changed since their first conversation.
Buttz testified that the first conversation with Robyrtt concerned only verbal harassment by Kenya. Buttz also said that after his first conversation with Robyrtt in late January he called Kenya and the other boys involved in the incidents to his office to talk to them about the problem. Buttz stated that it was not within his area of responsibility to control bus drop-off and pickup points at his school. Buttz also stated he did not tell Robyrtt that he had done all he could do about the problems experienced by the Templar girls, contrary to plaintiff's claim. Buttz further stated that in his second telephone conversation with Robyrtt, Kenya was not specifically identified as the source of any problem. Buttz finally stated that after the telephone conversations he had with Robyrtt, he discussed the matter with Larry Reed in an effort to eliminate the problem. The bus stop for Kenya was changed on February 5 so that he would not wait for the bus with Aja and her sisters. In addition, the bus driver was instructed to keep Kenya and his brothers off the bus if they were not at their proper bus stop.
As Aja waited in front of her school for the doors to open on February 6, Kenya hit her in the right eye with his fist with sufficient force that knocked her to the ground. According to the testimony of Aja's twin sister, Kenya muttered something to the effect that he hit Aja in the eye because she caused the change of his bus pickup point. John Henry testified that the school did not notify him of the problem between Kenya and the Templar girls. Muriel Sumpter also testified that she was not informed of the problems between Kenya and Aja.
As a result of her injury, Aja lost partial vision in her right eye caused by a blind spot in the central viewing area. Dr. John Randolph of the Gailey Eye Clinic in Bloomington testified that this condition was permanent and that it ...