The opinion of the court was delivered by: ZAGEL
This case has its origin in events that began on February 5, 1996.
That day, Homer Consolidated School District No. 33-C ("School District") officials found a fire burning in a locker at Schilling Elementary School where plaintiff Robert Bills was a fifth grade student. The Schilling School Principal Ernst Jolas and Will County Police Officer Joseph Kamarauskas began investigating this incident, and as a result, found a hand-held propane torch in a locker near the one where the fire occurred. Beginning on February 5 and continuing daily at least through February 9, Kamarauskas, Jolas, and other school officials questioned plaintiff, sometimes outside the presence of his parents, in connection with the fire. On February 8, 1996, a Schilling School student who was an acquaintance of plaintiff's, admitted to starting the fire with matches, not the propane torch. On February 9, Kamarauskas pulled plaintiff out of class, questioned him in an allegedly coercive manner, and extracted a signed confession wherein plaintiff admitted bringing the torch to school and giving it to the boy who admitted starting the fire.
After plaintiff signed the confession, a series of significant events ensued. On February 13, plaintiff and his parents received a notice that the School District intended to suspend plaintiff from school and recommend his expulsion for the remainder of the 1995-1996 school year and for the whole 1996-1997 school year. Subsequently, the school district suspended plaintiff for ten days.
Then, on February 20, plaintiff's parents requested a hearing on the suspension and expulsion issues. On February 22, plaintiff was redesignated as non-learning disabled. Previously, plaintiff had been classified as Learning Disabled since first grade. On May 7, 1996, plaintiff and his parents attended a school disciplinary hearing at which the School District's Board of Education took action to expel him from school.
On June 11, 1996, plaintiff filed a complaint in Illinois state court alleging constitutional deprivations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On September 20, 1996, the court found plaintiff engaged in gross and serious misconduct by bringing a torch to school, but the school board's expulsion of plaintiff beginning May 8, 1996 through the end of the 1996-1997 school year was excessive and an abuse of discretion not supported by plaintiff's conduct. Thereupon, plaintiff resumed school, and he continues to attend school at the present time.
On October 2, 1996, plaintiff filed a complaint seeking primarily monetary, declaratory, and injunctive relief against the School District, Douglas Sisterson (President of the Board of Education for the Homer district), Ernst Jolas (these first three defendants shall be collectively designated the "School District Defendants"), and Deputy Joseph Kamarauskas in federal court alleging constitutional deprivations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff asserted the following six counts:
(1) Kamarauskas and Jolas, in their individual capacities, violated plaintiff's Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights by unreasonable seizures and interrogations;
(2) Jolas and Sisterson, in their individual capacities, violated plaintiff's substantive and procedural due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment by reclassifying his status, conducting an unfair disciplinary hearing and expelling him;
(3) Jolas and Sisterson, in their individual capacities, violated plaintiff's equal protection rights under the Fourteenth amendment by reclassifying his status and expelling him;
(4) Kamarauskas, in his official capacity, maintained a policy that violated plaintiff's Fourth amendment rights by unreasonable seizures and interrogations;
(5) Sisterson, in his official capacity, and the School District maintained policies that violated plaintiff's due process and equal protection rights by expelling him and reclassifying his status;
(6) Jolas, Sisterson and the Homer School District improperly reclassified plaintiff's status and expelled him in violation of his Fourteenth amendment due process rights.
On a motion to dismiss, the court tests the sufficiency of the complaint, not the merits of the lawsuit. Triad Assocs., Inc. v. Chicago Hous. Auth., 892 F.2d 583, 586 (7th Cir. 1989). The court must accept all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Dimmig v. Wahl, 983 F.2d 86, 87 (7th Cir. 1993). A court will only grant a motion to dismiss if it is clear that the plaintiff cannot prove any ...