facility) was a violation of plaintiff's due process rights. Id.
Based on the facts as plaintiffs present them and on the relevant case law discussed above, this court finds that Paul Baxter was not denied his due process rights in connection with his November 2nd expulsion hearing. Paul Baxter and his parents were given adequate notice of the expulsion hearing and a meaningful opportunity to be heard. Plaintiffs admitted that they received written notice by certified mail of Paul's November 2nd expulsion hearing stating the date, time and place of the hearing as is required under Illinois law. Plaintiffs and their attorney attended the hearing and had adequate time to prepare for it.
Plaintiffs' attorney was given the opportunity to explain Paul's position to the hearing officer and to extensively question the school personnel and those involved in the fight. It was plaintiffs' choice to leave the expulsion hearing before it was concluded.
Because plaintiffs chose not to fully participate in the hearing, the testimony before the hearing officer consisted primarily of the school personnel (the dean and the teachers who witnessed the fight and tried to stop it) who described in detail what occurred on September 23rd.
This court finds that plaintiffs cannot prove that the hearing officer's decision was arbitrary and capricious in violation of Paul's due process rights, because the testimony before the hearing officer was an sufficient evidentiary basis to support the his recommendation to expel Paul if he did not attend the alternative educational facility. See Stratton v. Wenona Community Unit Dist. No. 1, 133 Ill. 2d 413, 551 N.E.2d 640, 649, 141 Ill. Dec. 453, 462 (Ill. 1990).
In addition, this court finds no support for a finding of a denial of due process by virtue of the fact that the same hearing officer from Paul's suspension hearing also presided over Paul's expulsion hearing. Plaintiffs have not shown, as is required to prove a due process violation, that the hearing officer possessed a pre-existing animosity toward Paul or had developed a bias because of the officer's involvement in Paul's case.
This court also rejects plaintiff's argument that Paul was denied due process because a court reporter was not present at his expulsion hearing or because the school did not inform plaintiffs of the possibility that Paul could be transferred to an alternate education program. As discussed above, the Seventh Circuit has stated that a school expulsion hearing need not follow the formal procedures of a judicial or quasi-judicial trial to survive due process challenges. In addition, the Seventh Circuit has specifically held that failure of a school to notify a parent of the possible punishments that could result from the expulsion hearing is not a violation of due process. Betts, 466 F.2d 629, 633 (7th Cir. 1972).
Finally, this court rejects plaintiffs' argument that, under Illinois law, the district's School Board, and not an appointed hearing officer, is the only proper party to preside over a student's expulsion hearing. Under Illinois statute, either a school district's Board of Education or a hearing officer appointed by the Board may preside over a pupil's expulsion hearing. 105 ILCS 5/10-22.6(a), Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 122, para. 10-22.6(a). If a hearing officer presides over the expulsion proceeding, the officer is to then prepare a written summary of the expulsion hearing and a recommendation for the School Board to consider in making the final decision regarding the student's expulsion. Id.
In this case defendants complied with the statute. A hearing officer appointed by the School Board presided over Paul's November 2nd expulsion hearing. After conducting an evidentiary hearing, the hearing officer recommended to the School Board, based on the evidence presented to him at the expulsion hearing, that Paul should be transferred to the alternative high school or be expelled from school. The School Board then held a meeting on November 9th to consider the hearing officer's recommendations and to make the final decision regarding Paul's expulsion. Plaintiffs have not sufficiently shown any reason why under the undisputed material facts in this case this statute should not apply to the expulsion hearing in this case.
For the reasons stated above, defendant The Round Lake Area Schools' motion to dismiss considered as a motion for summary judgment is GRANTED, and defendant Superintendent Mary Davis's motion to dismiss considered as a motion for summary judgment is GRANTED. Judgment is entered for defendants. This case is DISMISSED in its entirety.
JAMES F. HOLDERMAN
United States District Judge
DATED: June 7, 1994