Appeal from the Circuit Court for the 12th Judicial Circuit, Will County, Illinois No. 02-CH-567 Honorable Herman S. Haase, Judge, Presiding
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice McDADE
This case arises from the one-year expulsion of a student in the Beecher Community School District. The student was expelled from school after being implicated in an incident involving drugs at a school function. The plaintiff asserted that his son's due process rights were violated by the defendant school district and sought a preliminary injunction in the trial court, which was denied. The plaintiff sought review by way of interlocutory appeal and we reverse.
While a freshman at the Beecher Community High School during the 2001-02 school year, Kevin Camlin attended a school function at a bowling alley. During the event, a member of the school staff learned that someone had smoked marijuana in the boys' bathroom.
The incident was reported to the administration, which began an investigation. After a series of interviews with students at the school, the administration determined that three boys had been in the bathroom when the marijuana was smoked: Kevin Camlin, Mike Barton, and Miguel Savalez.
The three were interviewed separately by the dean of students, Kevin Brown. Miguel admitted that he had marijuana in his possession that he obtained from Mike Barton. Barton admitted smoking the marijuana. Neither stated that Camlin had smoked as well, and in his interview Kevin denied doing so, although he admitted that he knew the other boys were smoking.
As punishment, Miguel and Mike received 10-day suspensions, with recommendation for expulsion. Although there was no evidence that Kevin was smoking, he received a six-day suspension because he admitted to being present in the bathroom.
Over winter break, Mike Barton struck a deal with the school administrators whereby he would avoid expulsion by implicating Camlin in the incident. On January 17, 2002, when the spring semester began, Kevin was called to the dean's office and was told that the dean had received "further information" about Kevin's involvement.
He was not informed of the nature the "further information" or by whom it had been supplied. At that time, Kevin asked to see his mother, but the request was denied and he was told that he could see her following the interview. The dean demanded that Kevin sign a disciplinary form acknowledging his culpability. Kevin refused and again demanded to see his mother. The dean then notified Kevin that he was imposing a 10-day suspension and would recommend expulsion.
Following the January 17 confrontation, Kevin's parents were notified that an expulsion hearing was scheduled for January 31, 2002, and that Kevin was charged with violation of a broad drug rule. They protested the expulsion and repeatedly urged the school to adhere to its published school policy concerning drug violations.
In August 2001, a memo was sent from the high school principal to parents explaining the school district's drug/alcohol policy and requiring a parent's signature to show it had been received. The attached policy, which was part of the Parent-Student Handbook, stated:
"[S]tudents who 'sell, distribute, use, have, or are under the influence of illegal drugs, look-a-like drugs, controlled substances, associated paraphernalia, or alcoholic beverages' are subject to disciplinary action, including ...