United States District Court, N.D. Illinois
March 19, 2004.
BOARD OF EDUCATION
The opinion of the court was delivered by: PHILIP REINHARD, District Judge Page 2
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff, Sylvia H. Carrizales, filed this action in state court
against defendant, Board of Education of the Rockford School District,
No. 205, alleging breach of her employment contract (Count I) and an
action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming a denial of procedural due
process in the termination of her employment (Count II). Defendant
removed the case to this court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441 (a).
Federal question jurisdiction is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 over
the § 1983 claim. The court has supplemental jurisdiction over the
breach of contract claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367. Defendant
moves to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted.
On a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss all well-pleaded allegations ARB taken
as true, all reasonable inferences ARB drawn in plaintiff's favor, and
dismissal is appropriate only "when there is no possible interpretation
of the complaint under which it can state a claim." Flannery v. Recording
Indus. Ass'n of America, 354 F.3d 632, 637 (7th Cir. 2004). Defendant
argues plaintiff's Section 1983 claim is deficient because she does not
allege a valid property interest in her employment and did not have any
right to remediation. The complaint alleges that on or about July l,
2000, plaintiff and defendant entered into a contract to employ
plaintiff. Compl. ¶ 19. The contract was renewable on a yearly basis.
Id. The contract was "memorialized in the minutes and records of
[defendant], and said contract is under the terms and conditions of the
Illinois School Code, and under the Rockford School district teachers
contract." Id. The contract terms were that "of any other certified
teacher and administrator covered by the terms and conditions of the
[defendant's] teacher contract and the Illinois School Code." Id., ¶
20. The contract was renewed yearly including through the 2002-03 school
year. Id. Plaintiff received a Notice to Remedy and a warning on July
30, 2002. Id. ¶ 21. On or about September 24, 2002, she was mailed a
Notice of Termination. Id. ¶ 22.
A public employee can obtain a property interest in employment either
by contract terms or by a law precluding the employee from being
terminated except on limited grounds. See Head v. Chicago Sch. Reform
Bd. of Tr., 225 F.3d 794, 803 (7th Cir. 2000). When such a property
interest exists, the employee may not be terminated without due process.
Id. Plaintiff alleges she had a contract which included terms like any
other certified teacher or administrator under the Illinois School Code.
The Illinois School Code provides that teachers in contractual continued
service can only be dismissed for cause. 105 ILCS 5/10-22.4, 24-12. A
contract containing such terms would create a property interest in
employment through the end of the contract term that cannot be terminated
without due process. See Head, 225 F.3d at 803. Thus, a possible
interpretation of the complaint exists that would state a claim.
Defendant advances several arguments concerning why the Illinois School
Code does not apply to plaintiff or does not entitle her to due process.
However, these arguments ARB not resolvable on this motion to dismiss.
While the complaint is quite sketchy on exactly how plaintiff's contract
provides her a protected property interest, she is not required to
elaborate at this point. If defendant needs more information (i.e. where
exactly can the terms of this contract be found and what ARB they) to
answer, the proper response is to move for a more definite statement
under Rule 12(e). See Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 514
(2002). Summary judgment is the means to deal with claims lacking in
For the foregoing reasons, defendant's motion to dismiss is denied.*fn1