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Bartlett v. City of Chicago School District #299

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

April 17, 2014

DOUGLAS BARTLETT, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO SCHOOL DISTRICT #299, ET AL., Defendants

Page 960

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 961

For Douglas Bartlett, Plaintiff: Dmitry N. Feofanov, ChicagoLemonLaw.com, P.C., Lyndon, IL.

For City of Chicago School District #299, Defendant: Kathleen Marie Gibbons, Sunil Kumar, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Board of Education of the City of Chicago, Chicago, IL; Susan Margaret O'Keefe, Chicago Board of Education, Chicago, IL.

For Valeria Newell, Defendant: Kathleen Marie Gibbons, LEAD ATTORNEY, Board of Education of the City of Chicago, Chicago, IL.

Page 962

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Robert M. Dow, Jr., United States District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on a motion for judgment on the pleadings [26] filed by Defendants Board of Education of the City of Chicago.[1] For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants Defendants' motion [26].

I. Background

Plaintiff Douglas Bartlett teaches second grade at Washington Irving Elementary School and has worked for the Board of Education of the City of Chicago, School District #299, for over seventeen years. On August 8, 2011, in connection with a required math lesson about counting money and mathematical toolkits,[2] Bartlett displayed several tools to his students. These tools included a box cutter, a 2.25" pocketknife, wrenches, screwdrivers, and pliers. As part of his demonstration, Bartlett also described the uses of the tools. Rochelle Bryant, an instructional specialist from the Board, was present in Plaintiff's classroom that morning and observed Plaintiff's demonstration.

On August 19, 2011, Defendant Valeria Bryant,[3] the principal at Washington Irving, notified Bartlett that a pre-discipline hearing had been scheduled at school for August 24, 2011, regarding the " tools" incident. Bartlett was charged with negligently supervising children; inattention to duty; violating school rules; repeated or flagrant acts; and possessing, carrying, storing or using a weapon on the job when not authorized to do so. During the hearing, Bartlett was represented by counsel and denied the charges. Principal Bryant served as the hearing officer. After the hearing, Bartlett supplemented the record with a written statement. On September 27, 2011, a Notice of Disciplinary Action was issued by Defendant Bryant. Bryant recommended that Bartlett receive a four-day suspension without pay, finding not credible Plaintiff's claim that the boxer-cutter and knife demonstration was a required component of the math lesson; that he failed to obtain permission to demonstrate use of the box-cutter and knife to his second grade students; and that he failed to maintain his box-cutter in a secure location that was inaccessible to his students.

Plaintiff appealed his suspension to the Board's Office of Employee Relations. The Office of Employee Relations convened a hearing on January 18, 2012, during which Plaintiff was represented by the Chicago Teachers Union. The administrative hearing officer upheld the four-day suspension, finding that (1) Bartlett admitted he showed the box cutter, knife, screwdriver, and other tools to students; (2) he kept the box cutter in the classroom; (3) he placed the box cutter on his desk, which ...


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