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Purvis v. Board of Education of Hall High School District 502

August 11, 2006

GINA PURVIS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF HALL HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT 502, DANIEL OEST, PATRICIA LUNN, GARY VICINI, THE CITY OF SPRING VALLEY, ILLINOIS, AND DOUGLAS BERNABEI, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael M. Mihm United States District Judge

ORDER

Before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss by the Board of Education of Hall High School (the "Board") District 502 [#31]. For the reasons set forth below, the Board's Motion to Dismiss [#31] is DENIED.

JURISDICTION

This Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's § 1983 claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

BACKGROUND

The Complaint arises out of an unfortunate series of events.*fn1 The Plaintiff, Gina Purvis ("Purvis"), was a tenured Biology teacher at Hall High School ("Hall") in Spring Valley, Illinois. This sordid tale begins back in the Spring of 2004 when rumors began to surface that Purvis was having sex with Mickey Ribas (Ribas), who was her 15-year old student at the time. Ribas and other fellow students spread false rumors that he and Purvis were having a consensual sexual relationship, stating that they had sex at school, at Purvis's home, in her car, and in Ribas' home. As the rumors spread, Hall Principal Patricia Lunn ("Lunn") agreed with Daniel Oest ("Oest"), Superintendent of Hall, to allow Oest and Gary Vicini ("Vicini"), Dean of Students and head football and track coach, to investigate the rumors. Lunn and Vicini failed to inform Oest that Purvis had previously reported Vicini to Lunn for allegedly sexually harassing a female student in 2003.

On November 10, 2004, Oest and Vicini met with Ribas. Ribas denied any sexual relationship with Purvis. Vicini threatened Ribas with expulsion or jail if he did not admit that the rumors were true. To avoid punishment, Ribas was persuaded to say that the rumors were true. Vicini, rather than Lunn or Oest, reported Purvis to Chief Douglas Bernabei ("Bernabei") of the Spring Valley Police. Vicini did not inform Bernabei that Purvis had previously reported him for sexual harassment. In turn, Bernabei notified DCFS, despite the fact that he was aware that Oest and Vicini had persuaded Ribas to change his story.

Purvis was then investigated, arrested, and indicted for sexual assault against Ribas. Purvis was suspended by the School Board with pay pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings. On October 31, 2005, at the conclusion of a six-day bench trial, Purvis was acquitted of all charges. Purvis and the Board subsequently settled her employment dismissal during her pending statutory administrative dismissal hearing, without prejudice to her right to proceed in this action.

On February 22, 2006, Purvis filed her Second Amended Complaint in which she alleges that the Board violated her First, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. In Count II of the Second Amended Complaint, Purvis also asserts a claim against the Board for negligent retention, training, and supervision. The Board has moved to dismiss the applicable portions of the Second Amended Complaint, and this Order follows.

DISCUSSION

A complaint should not be dismissed unless it appears from the pleadings that the plaintiff could prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief. See Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957); Gould v. Artisoft, Inc., 1 F.3d 544, 548 (7th Cir. 1993). Rather, a complaint should be construed broadly and liberally in conformity with the mandate in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(f).

For purposes of a motion to dismiss, the complaint is construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff; its well-pleaded factual allegations are taken as true, and all reasonably-drawn inferences are drawn in favor of the plaintiff. See Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268 (1994); Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69 (1984); Lanigan v. Village of East Hazel Crest, 110 F.3d 467 (7th Cir. 1997); M.C.M. Partners, Inc. v. Andrews-Bartlett & Assoc., Inc., 62 F.3d 967, 969 (7th Cir. 1995); Early v. Bankers Life & Cas. Co., 959 F.2d 75 (7th Cir. 1992).

Section 1983 imposes liability where a defendant acts under color of a state law and the defendant's conduct violated the plaintiff's rights under the Constitution or laws of the United States. 42 U.S.C. § 1983. To establish a cause of action under § 1983, the plaintiff must allege (1) that the defendant has deprived her of a federal right, and (2) that the defendant acted under color of state law. Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980). In reviewing the complaint on a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff is only required to set forth these elements in a ...


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