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Taylor-Doyle v. Poehls

February 3, 2010

ANNESTRA TAYLOR-DOYLE, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
DAVID POEHLS, ET. AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

ORDER

This matter is now before the Court on Defendants David Poehls' ("Poehls") and Peoria School District 150's ("District 150") Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion [#89] is GRANTED.

JURISDICTION

The Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343 (a)(4), as the claims arise under the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court has supplemental jurisdiction over the related state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1367.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

This § 1983 action arises out of the events following the discipline of Plaintiff's ("Taylor-Doyle") daughter, S.T., by Richwoods High School Dean Poehls. On February 14, 2006, S.T. had sexual intercourse with a male student in a bathroom at Richwoods High School. After Poehls heard rumors about the encounter, he interviewed the male student, who admitted to Poehls that the incident occurred. Plaintiff was informed of the encounter by K.D., one of her foster children, on or about February 21, 2006. When Plaintiff questioned S.T. about the incident, S.T. admitted that the incident occurred following a mandatory in-school suspension both students served. Taylor-Doyle then called Poehls the next day. Poehls was authorized, as Dean of Students, to suspend a student for between one and ten days, determining the appropriate number of days for the suspension at his discretion. After receiving admissions from both students involved, Poehls issued both S.T. and the male student a five-day suspension.

Because S.T. committed an expellable offense, District 150 policy required that Poehls either offer S.T. entry into the Alternative Probation Program or refer her to the Director of Student Affairs for consideration of expulsion upon the completion of her suspension. Alternative probation is not mandatory and is offered when a reasonable expectation exists that a student who committed an expellable offense will successfully complete his or her education. Upon completion of the program, records indicating that a student was enrolled in the program are expunged. On March 2, 2006, Plaintiff, Annestra Taylor-Doyle ("Taylor-Doyle") met with Poehls to discuss alternative probation for S.T. During the meeting, Poehls explained the program, and both S.T. and Taylor-Doyle agreed to sign the Alternative Probation Agreement.

The exact statements uttered by Taylor-Doyle at this meeting are in dispute and greatly muddled by Plaintiff's inconsistent deposition testimony. However, Taylor-Doyle admits that she used profanities during the meeting, and both parties agree that she directed the phrase "your ass" toward S.T. during the meeting. (Pl.'s Dep 60: 5-15; Poehls Dep. 71: 22-24.) Poehls noticed that S.T. appeared "very upset" and had "a very shaken look about her". (Poehls Dep. 78: 12-18.) After the meeting ended and Plaintiff departed from his office, Poehls asked S.T. if Taylor-Doyle ever abused her. S.T. answered affirmatively and specifically stated that Plaintiff hit her in the head with a boot and dunked her head in dishwater. Upon hearing S.T.'s statements, Poehls called school counselor Deborah Kelone into his office and S.T. repeated the statements to Kelone in Poehls' presence. Additionally, both Poehls and Kelone noticed marks on S.T.'s forehead and neck.

Poehls then alerted the campus police officer of S.T.'s allegations of abuse and called the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services ("DCFS") suspected abuse hotline. Poehls' involvement with this matter ended when he completed a DCFS suspected abuse report and was interviewed by Steven Sizemore ("Sizemore"), the DCFS investigator assigned to probe S.T.'s claims. Peoria Police Detective David Nelson ("Nelson") was notified of the situation and worked with Sizemore to conduct an official investigation into S.T.'s allegations. After Taylor-Doyle was arrested for domestic battery and endangering the life and welfare of a child, her husband, Gary Doyle, agreed to a DCFS child safety plan that restricted Taylor-Doyle's access to the children and required that the children reside outside of Taylor-Doyle's home. Gary Doyle renewed this plan weekly until April 24, 2006, on or about the day that the charges against Taylor-Doyle were dropped. After previously indicating Taylor-Doyle, DCFS voluntarily unfounded the child abuse indicated finding and dismissed the administrative proceeding on January 11, 2007.

On March 2, 2007, Plaintiffs, Annestra Taylor-Doyle, individually, and as mother and next friend of S.T. and L.T., commenced this action against Poehls and District 150; Nelson and the City of Peoria, IL; Sizemore; Michael McCoy, Sheriff of Peoria County; Stephen Smith, Jail Superintendant of Sheriff of Peoria County; Peoria County, Illinois; and Jennifer Streitmatter, Director of Human Services for the Children's Home. Defendants McCoy, Smith, Streitmatter, and Peoria County have all been subsequently dismissed from this matter with prejudice. Also dismissed with prejudice was Plaintiff S.T. Remaining are Plaintiff's various constitutional and state law claims against Defendants Poehls and District 150, Nelson and the City of Peoria, and Sizemore. On July 10, 2009, Defendant Poehls filed the instant Motion. This matter is now fully briefed, and this Order follows.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment should be granted where "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The moving party must demonstrate, through portions of the record or affidavits, the absence of a triable issue. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial is resolved against the moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Cain v. Lane, 857 F.2d 1139, 1142 (7th Cir. 1988).

If the moving party meets its burden, the non-moving party then has the burden of presenting specific facts to show that there is a genuine issue of material fact. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e) requires the non-moving party to go beyond the pleadings and produce evidence of a genuine issue for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. Nevertheless, this Court must "view the record and all references drawn from it in the light most favorable to the [non-moving party]." Holland v. Jefferson Nat. Life Ins. Co., 883 F.2d 1307, 1312 (7th Cir. 1989). The Court will deny summary judgment if a reasonable jury ...


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