APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, SIXTH DIVISION
MARY DOE et al., as Next Friends of John Doe et al., Two
Unnamed Patients of Parkside Lodge of Illinois, d/b/a
545 N.E.2d 454, 189 Ill. App. 3d 572, 136 Ill. Dec. 930 1989.IL.1577
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Anthony J. Scotillo, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE McNAMARA delivered the opinion of the court. EGAN, P.J., and LaPORTA, J., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE MCNAMARA
Plaintiffs, Mary Doe and Richard Jones, brought this declaratory action against State and local educational authorities seeking damages and injunctive relief in connection with payment for high school tuition for out-of-district students. Plaintiffs filed suit as next friends of minors John Doe and Jane Jones, two unnamed patients of plaintiff Parkside Lodge of Illinois, Inc., d/b/a Parkside Youth Center, Inc., a private residential center for treating alcohol and drug abuse.
Defendants include John Theodore Sanders, in his official capacity as Superintendent of the defendant Illinois State Board of Education, and the State Board of Education itself (these defendants referred to herein as State Board). The other defendants are Dr. James L. Elliot, in his official capacity as superintendent of defendant Maine Township High School District 207 Board of Education, and the Maine Township High School District 207 itself (these defendants referred to herein as local defendants, or local school district).
After the trial, the trial court entered judgment for plaintiffs with respect to their count alleging violation of the Illinois School Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 122, par. 1-1 et seq.). The court enjoined defendants from the practice of charging nonresident tuition to plaintiffs, and awarded damages for previous tuition payments in the amount of $60,731.60. The court denied plaintiffs any relief under section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. § 794 (1982)). The court stayed enforcement of its order pending appeal.
All defendants appeal from the trial court order entering judgment for plaintiffs on their count alleging violation of the Illinois School Code. Plaintiffs cross-appeal from the trial court order denying additional relief, including attorney fees, under the Rehabilitation Act.
On appeal, defendants contend that plaintiffs are not entitled to a free public education while residing at Parkside. They argue that the trial court erred in construing the tuition funding provision in section 18--3 of the Illinois School Code to include substance abuse centers for adolescents voluntarily placed by their parents and not requiring special education services. The local school district and its superintendent also argue on appeal that the school district is not liable for any tuition reimbursement because it does not set State educational policies; and that the trial court abused its discretion in denying them leave to file an answer.
Parkside is a nonprofit corporation affiliated with Lutheran General Hospital. It provides extended residential treatment for adolescent children suffering from alcoholism or other disabling substance abuse problems. There are only two other such facilities in Illinois. The patients at Parkside are from 14 to 21 years old, and they remain in residence for about 6 to 12 months.
Mary Jane Bressler, the director of Parkside, testified that it is very important that Parkside's patients attend school because part of the recovery includes providing a normal environment for the adolescents. Most of the children in the program had experienced truancy and delinquency problems prior to coming to Parkside. In Bressler's opinion, the Parkside patients are "maladjusted" because the substance abuse had adversely affected their emotional and behavioral ability to adjust to their environment. They were ...