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CARTER v. BOARD OF EDUCATION

December 6, 2005.

VIRGINIA LYNN CARTER, Plaintiff,
v.
BOARD OF EDUCATION CHAMPAIGN COMMUNITY UNITED SCHOOL DISTRICT #4, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DAVID BERNTHAL, Magistrate Judge

ORDER

In July 2005, Plaintiff, Virginia Carter, filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of the Sixth Judicial Circuit, Champaign County, Illinois, against Defendant, the Board of Education of Champaign Community Unit School District No. 4. In July 2005, Defendant removed the case to federal court by filing a Notice of Removal (#1). Federal jurisdiction is based on federal question pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

In August 2005, Defendant filed a Motion To Dismiss Counts III, VI, and VII (#3). After reviewing the parties' pleadings and memoranda, Defendant's Motion To Dismiss Counts III, VI, and VII (#3) is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

  I. Background

  The following background is taken from the complaint. At relevant times, Dorland Norris was Deputy Superintendent of the District and Ecomet Burley was Assistant Superintendent for Achievement and Pupil Services. Plaintiff worked for the District as principal at Booker T. Washington School from 2000 until mid-2004. A written contract between Plaintiff and Defendant established the terms of her employment.

  From 2002-2006, Plaintiff did not receive a salary increase, nor was she given a formal remediation plan. In May 2003, Ms. Norris recommended that Plaintiff be retained without a remediation plan. Plaintiff did not receive a raise at that time, nor was she notified of any areas of performance that needed to be improved in order to receive a raise. In 2003, Norris informed Plaintiff that some complaints had been received from parents and that Plaintiff should draft her own remediation plan. In September 2003, Norris sent Plaintiff a notice stating that a remediation would be developed. Plaintiff never received a formal plan from Defendant, and Defendant did not respond to the remediation plan that Plaintiff had drafted on her own. Plaintiff complied with the provisions of her own informal remediation plan.

  In October 2003, Ecomet Burley, the assistant superintendent, visited Booker T. Washington School. During that visit, he observed an interaction between a school secretary and a substitute secretary, Deb Bone, and also observed some items in the school that presented an unsightly appearance. In November 2003, Plaintiff met with Burley and others and Burley told her to fire Bone and to clean up the hallway and front entrance. Plaintiff fired Bone, and told Bone that Burley had instructed Plaintiff to do so. She also informed other Booker T. Washington staff that Burley was not pleased with the appearance of the building.

  In February 2004, Burley sent Plaintiff a memorandum regarding the November 2003 meeting and Plaintiff's handling of the issues raised at that meeting. The memorandum states, in part, as follows: "Ms. Carter, your handling of confidential school-related information by telling your staff and Ms. Bone that I was the source of this information was inappropriate and showed poor judgment on your part. . . . Your indiscretion in this situation has caused irreparable harm." (Complaint, Ex. E.)

  In March 2004, Plaintiff met with Burley and outlined specifically how Plaintiff had complied with the informal remediation plan. On April 19, 2004, Burley told Plaintiff that Plaintiff would be reassigned from Booker T. Washington School and that he was not sure there was a place for Plaintiff with the District. Later in the day on April 19, 2004, Carol Stack, Deputy Superintendent for the District, informed Plaintiff that if Plaintiff did not provide a letter of resignation, a board meeting would be called immediately. Plaintiff submitted a letter asking for reassignment to another school in the District. On June 1, 2004, Plaintiff met with Burley for a final evaluation. Burley's summary evaluation stated in part that "the recommendation to reassign Ms. Carter to another position in the district has been made and accepted by Superintendent and the Board of Education." (Complaint, Ex. G.) Plaintiff was ultimately told that no position was available for her in the District. On June 4, 2004, Plaintiff informed Defendant that she had accepted an administrative position at another school.

  As a result of Defendant's actions, Plaintiff has lost wages, retirement income, and raises to which she was entitled. She has also suffered damage to her reputation and incurred relocation expenses.

  Plaintiff's seven-count complaint alleges breach of contract, breach of contract pursuant to state statute (105 ILCS 5/10-23.8(B)), constructive discharge, violation of procedural due process/occupational liberty pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (hereinafter "Section 1983"), violation of substantive due process pursuant to Section 1983, violation of procedural due process under the Illinois Constitution, and violation of substantive due process under the Illinois Constitution.

  II. Standard

  The purpose of a motion to dismiss is to test the sufficiency of the complaint, not to decide the merits of the case. Miller v. Reebie Storage and Moving Co., Inc., No. 93 C 3986, 1993 WL 414689, *1 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 15, 1993). When considering a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations in the claim and draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Gutierrez v. Peters, 111 F.3d 1364, 1368-69 (7th Cir. 1997). The Court should dismiss the case only if the nonmoving party can prove no set of facts consistent with the allegations of the complaint that would entitle him to relief. Turner/Ozanne v. Hyman/Power, 111 F.3d 1312, 1319-20 (7th Cir. 1997). III. Analysis

  Defendant argues that the Court should dismiss Counts III, VI, and VII because (1) no such cause of action as "constructive discharge" exists under Illinois law (Count III); and (2) the Illinois Constitution does not provide a private right of action for ...


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