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Bates v. Dunn

February 28, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge


Plaintiff Gertha Bates filed the present one-count Amended Complaint against Defendants Dr. Randy J. Dunn, the former Illinois State Superintendent of Education, and Jesse H. Ruiz, the Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education ("ISBE") -- in their official capacities -- alleging that Defendants deprived her of her liberty interests without due process of law. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Before the Court is Defendants' Motion For Summary Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c). For the following reasons, the Court grants Defendants' motion.


I. The Parties

From approximately 1999 through 2007, Bates worked as a substitute teacher for the Chicago Public Schools ("CPS"). (R. 45-1, Defs.' Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 1.) Defendant Dr. Randy J. Dunn is the former Superintendent of Education for the State of Illinois. (Id. ¶ 2.) Dunn's responsibilities as Superintendent included serving as the Chief Executive Officer of pre-Kindergarten through twelfth grade education for the State of Illinois. (Id.) At all relevant times to this lawsuit, Defendant Jesse H. Ruiz was the Chairman of the ISBE. (Id. ¶ 3.) His responsibilities included presiding over board meetings, appointing members to standing and temporary committees and advisory bodies, appointing board members to act on behalf of the board in specified circumstances, and performing other vested duties. (Id.)

II. Illinois State Board of Education

The ISBE is the state agency authorized by Illinois law to set standards for teaching, supervising, and holding other certificated employment in the public schools. (Id. ¶ 10.) The ISBE also administers the certification process; approves and evaluates teacher and administrator preparation programs; enters into agreements with other states for reciprocal approval of teacher and administrator preparation programs; establishes standards for the issuance of new types of certificates; and takes other actions relating to improving teaching in the public schools. (Id.) The ISBE is comprised of several departments, one of which is the Division of Certification. (Id.) The ISBE has employed Dennis Williams for approximately fifteen years. (Id. ¶ 11.) From 2001 until 2006, Williams worked as Division Administrator at the ISBE. (Id. ¶ 12.) His duties as Division Administrator involved overseeing the entire certification system, which included certification of teachers and administrators. (Id.)

III. Illinois' Teacher Certification Process

In Illinois, an individual can get a substitute teaching certificate before taking and passing the Illinois Certificate Testing System's ("ICTS") Basic Skills Test, Content Area Test, and the Assessment of Professional Teaching Test. (Id. ¶ 13.) A substitute certificate allows an individual to teach in a school for up to 120 days per year on a substitute basis. (Id.) A substitute certificate is not a full teaching certificate. (Id.) To become a fully certified teacher in Illinois, a teacher must complete an approved program at an accredited university. (Id. ¶ 14.) The teacher must also pass the above-mentioned ICTS tests. (Id.) In Illinois, a newly certified teacher gets an initial certificate that lasts for four years. (Id.) During that time, the teacher must complete professional development after which she receives a standard certificate that is renewable every five years. (Id. ¶ 15.) An initial certificate is required before a teacher can obtain a standard certificate. (Id.) The testing company -- National Evaluations Systems ("NES") -- administers the teaching tests and analyzes the test scores. (Id. ¶¶ 16, 17.) The NES also notifies the ISBE if someone took the test and did not pass, but then took the test again and got a significantly higher score based on NES' statistical analysis. (Id. ¶ 17.)

As Division Administrator, Williams reviewed the test scores via an electronic transfer through a secure site to the ISBE's database. (Id. ¶ 18.) Once the scores get to the ISBE's database, the database reads them as "pass" or "fail" and records them in the Teacher Certification Information System. (Id.) In the event that an individual's test materials reveal irregularities that warrant further investigation, the ISBE forwards those materials to the appropriate law enforcement authority and notifies the affected person(s). (Id. ¶ 20.) The Illinois Administrative Code provides that an applicant's score will be voided, if "any person taking the test engages in any form of misconduct ... having the purpose or effect of ... representing the performance of the named registered examines by the performance of another person." (Id. ¶ 21.) Based on his experience, Williams contends that the test center may void anywhere from six to twelve test scores a year. (Id. ¶ 22.)

IV. Bates' Educational Background and Employment with the CPS

In 1982, Bates earned her bachelor's degree in psychology from Mobile College (now called the University of Mobile) in Alabama. (Id. ¶ 27; R. 60-1, Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Add'l Facts ¶ 1.) In 1994, Bates earned a master's degree in urban teaching from Concordia University in River Forest, Illinois. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 28; Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 1.) Between 1999 and 2003, Concordia contacted Bates about taking additional classes so that Concordia could submit her application for a teaching certificate to the State. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 29.) In furtherance of the certification process, Bates took two additional classes at Prairie State College. (Id.; Pl.s' Stmt. Facts ¶ 1.)

Bates' last employment with the CPS was in a temporary assigned substitute position teaching fifth grade at Mahalia Jackson Elementary School. (Id. ¶ 23, Pl.'s Stmt Facts ¶ 5.) Before working at Mahalia Jackson Elementary, Bates worked from 1999 to 2004 at Aldridge Elementary School -- which is also part of the CPS -- teaching second and fifth grade. (Defs.' Stmt Facts ¶ 24; Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 6.) Bates also worked in the CPS as a provisional teacher, which is a substitute teacher who works everyday at the same school. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 25; Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 3.) Starting in 1996, Bates had a substitute teaching certificate. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 26.) While Bates worked at Aldridge Elementary School, the CPS ...

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