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Lawler v. Peoria School District No. 150

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

April 9, 2013

PEORIA SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 150, An Illinois Local Governmental Entity, Defendant.


BYRON G. CUDMORE, Magistrate Judge.

This matter comes before the Court for a Report and Recommendation on Defendant Peoria School District No. 150's (School District) Partial Motion to Dismiss (d/e 19). The School District seeks dismissal the portion of Plaintiff Eymarde Lawler's claim alleged in paragraph 27 of the Amended Complaint (d/e 11) (Complaint). For the reasons set forth below, this Court recommends that the Motion be allowed.


Lawler alleges that she was formerly employed by the School District as a teacher. She was assigned to the Behavioral Treatment Program at Trewyn Grade School beginning in the fall of 2010. She taught in the Behavioral Emotional Disturbed special education unit that educated violent students. Complaint, §§ 4, 9.

At the beginning of August 2011, Lawler witnessed a man being shot near the Trewyn Grade School. She saw the bloody abdominal wounds that the man suffered. Lawler suffered posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of this incident. In September 2011, her psychologist recommended a two-week leave and a transfer from the B.E.D. program. The Complaint does not define the B.E.D. program, but the term appears to refer to the Behavioral Emotional Disturbed special education unit to which Lawler was assigned. Lawler received the two-week leave, but not the transfer. Complaint, §§ 9-11.

Lawler returned to the B.E.D. unit after her leave ended. During the 2011-12 school year, Lawler was assaulted seven times and threatened once by students at Trewyn Grade School. In February 2012, Lawler's psychologist recommended a sick leave for the rest of the school year and a transfer from the B.E.D. unit. She was given leave for the rest of the school year. She was also given a bad evaluation and was laid off in a reduction in force after the school year ended. Lawler alleges that she was disabled due to her PTSD and depression, and that the bad evaluation and the layoff occurred because the school wrongfully denied her requests for a reasonable accommodation in the form of a transfer. Complaint, §§ 12-19. She further alleges that the School District also committed these acts in order to retaliate against her for exercising her rights as a disabled person. Complaint, §§ 4-19, 21-26.

Lawler asserts her claims under the Rehabilitation Act. 29 U.S.C. § 791 et seq. The rights and remedies for employment discrimination under the Rehabilitation Act are substantially similar to those available under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12111 et seq. See Opinion entered February 12, 2013 (d/e 16), at 2, for a discussion of the relationship between the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA in employment discrimination cases.

The School District asks the Court to dismiss the claim set forth in paragraph 27 of the Complaint. Paragraph 27 is sole allegation in § IV. B. of the Complaint. The heading for § IV. B. and paragraph 27 state:

B. Employment of Lawler in a Position for Which her Disability Disqualified Her Deprived Her Disabled Students of the Educational Opportunities Required by the Rehabilitation Act
27. Lawler's training and disability of which she informed District 150 on September 22, 2011 rendered her unable to teach the disabled students to provide them with the education required by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Complaint, § IV. B., § 27 (emphasis in the original).


Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), dismissal is proper where a complaint fails to state a claim on which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The Federal Rules require only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, " and allegations must be "simple, concise, and direct." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) & (d)(1). While a complaint need not contain detailed, specific factual allegations, it must contain sufficient facts to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim is plausible if the plaintiff "pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A claim is plausible on its face if it provides the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests. George v. Smith , 507 F.3d 605, 608 (7th Cir. 2007). Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate when "the factual detail in a complaint [is] so sketchy that the complaint does not provide the type of notice of the claim to which the defendant is entitled under Rule 8." Airborne Beepers & Video, Inc. v. AT & T Mobility, LLC , 499 F.3d 663, 667 (7th Cir. 2007).

The School District moves to dismiss the Claim because Lawler lacks standing to raise a claim on behalf of her students and because she fails to state a claim. The Court agrees. Paragraph 27 alleges that the students did not receive the education required by the Rehabilitation Act. This allegation can be read as an attempt to state a claim on behalf of the students. Lawler fails to allege that she has authority to sue on behalf of her students. She does not allege that she has been appointed guardian ad litem or otherwise authorized to bring the action on their behalf. See ed. R. Civ. P. 17(c); T.W. by Enk v. Brophy , 124 ...

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