United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
Friends of Trumbull, a voluntary unincorporated organization,
Plaintiff: Miriam V. Hallbauer, LEAD ATTORNEY, Alice Beatriz
Setrini, Legal Assistance Foundation, Chicago, IL; Ashley B.
Fretthold, Jennifer Joyce Payne, LAF, Chicago, IL; Charles
Robert Petrof, Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan
Chicago, Chicago, IL.
Chicago Board of Education, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, in her
official capacity as Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago
Board of Education, Defendants: Lisa Anne McGarrity, LEAD
ATTORNEY, Jennifer Ann Smith, Michael A. Warner, Jr.,
Franczek Radelet P.C., Chicago, IL; Cheryl J. Colston, Board
of Education of the City of Chicago, Department of Law,
Chicago, IL; James C. Franczek, Franczek Sullivan P.C.,
Chicago, IL; Kendra Berner Yoch, Sally J. Scott, Franczek
Radelet, Chicago, IL; Susan Margaret O'Keefe, Chicago
Board of Education, Chicago, IL.
Opinion and Order
Feinerman, United States District Judge.
massive budget shortfalls, the Chicago Board of Education
decided in 2013 to close dozens of public schools. Citywide
protests followed. So did the lawsuits, including this one
brought against the Board of Education and its Chief
Executive Officer (together, " Board" ) by, among
others, Friends of Trumbull, an unincorporated association
whose purpose was to advocate for resources to meet the
educational needs of Lyman Trumbull Elementary School in
Chicago's Andersonville neighborhood, one of the schools
slated for closure. Friends alleges that the utilization
formula used by the Board to determine which schools were
eligible for closure unfairly penalized Trumbull--which had a
relatively high proportion of students with disabilities--in
violation of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. §
701 et seq., and the Americans with Disabilities Act
of 1990 (" ADA" ), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et
seq. Doc. 21. The Board has moved under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(c) for judgment on the pleadings. Doc.
132. The motion is granted.
As on a
Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court on a Rule 12(c) motion
assumes the truth of the operative complaint's
well-pleaded factual allegations, though not its legal
conclusions. See Adams v. City of
Indianapolis, 742 F.3d 720, 727-28 (7th Cir. 2014)
(" A motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule
12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is governed by
the same standards as a motion to dismiss for failure to
state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6)." ); Reger
Development, LLC v. National City Bank, 592 F.3d 759,
763 (7th Cir. 2010). The court must also consider "
documents attached to the complaint, documents that are
critical to the complaint and referred to in it, and
information that is subject to proper judicial notice,"
along with additional facts set forth in the non-movant's
brief opposing dismissal, so long as those additional facts
" are consistent with the pleadings." Geinosky
v. City of Chicago, 675 F.3d 743, 745 n. 1 (7th Cir.
2012). To the extent that an exhibit contradicts the
the exhibit takes precedence. See Forrest v.
Universal Savings Bank, F.A., 507 F.3d 540, 542 (7th
Cir. 2007). The following facts are set forth as favorably to
Friends as permitted by those materials.
2013, the Chicago Public School District " ha[d] space
for over 511,000 students, but only 403,000 [we]re enrolled.
Nearly 140 schools [we]re more than half empty." Doc.
21-1 at 8. Believing this underutilization to be partly
responsible for the District's $1 billion fiscal deficit,
id. at 7, the Board announced the possible closing
of more than 50 public schools, including Trumbull. Doc. 21
at ¶ 35. Following public hearings in April 2013, the
Board voted in May to close Trumbull and 49 other schools.
Id. at ¶ ¶ 36, 42.
Board determined that Trumbull was eligible for closure
because although the school could accommodate between 576 and
864 students, it had only 389. Id. at ¶ 37.
According to the Board's " Utilization
Standard," a school's " ideal" enrollment
was calculated by (1) multiplying the school's total
number of classrooms by 0.76 (the assumed fraction of general
purpose classrooms, as opposed to ancillary or special
purpose rooms, in a typical school); and then (2) multiplying
that result by 30 students (the assumed ideal number of
students per classroom). Id. at ¶ ¶ 26-29.
The Board considered a school to have acceptable "
enrollment efficiency" if its enrollment was within 20
percent of the ideal. Id. at ¶ 27. Accordingly,
a school with an enrollment below 80% of its ideal was
considered underutilized. Id. at ¶ 29.
Trumbull's 389 students amounted to just 54% of its ideal
enrollment of 720; to reach acceptable enrollment efficiency,
Trumbull would have needed at least 576 students.
Id. at ¶ 43.
Utilization Standard took into account neither a school's
actual number of general purpose classrooms nor its
population of special needs students, who require class sizes
of far fewer than 30 students. Of Trumbull's 31
classrooms, only 21 were general purpose classrooms--and 6 of
the 21 were reserved for special education classes.
Id. at ¶ 20. Each special education class had
roughly 8 to 12 students, id. at ¶ 22, and
Friends alleges that " [t]he lower student-to-teacher
ratio in the special education classrooms constitute[d] a
crucial feature of Trumbull's education program,"
id. at ¶ 23. Of Trumbull's 389 students in the
2012-13 school year, 135 required special education services,
70 of them full time. Id. at ¶ 21. Had the
Board taken into account Trumbull's actual population and
classroom allocation, it would have concluded that "
Trumbull's utilization [wa]s about 70%" instead of
54%. Id. at ¶ 44. The Board announced at one
point during the closure process that only schools with
utilization rates lower than 70% would be vulnerable to being
closed. Id. at ¶ 34.
by three Trumbull students and their mothers, Friends filed
this suit in June 2013. Doc. 1. The operative complaint
alleges that the Board's decision to close Trumbull on
the basis of the Utilization Standard violated the
Rehabilitation Act, Doc. 21 at ¶ ¶ 55-73; the ADA,
id. at ¶ ¶ 74-90; and the Illinois School
Code, id. at ¶ ¶ 91-109. Friends alleges
that the Board's decision forced it to " divert
efforts and resources from its mission of raising funds to
further Trumbull's educational programs" to "
opposing Defendants' discriminatory actions, and
advocat[ing] against Trumbull's closure."
Id. at ¶ ¶ 73, 90. Shortly after the suit
was filed, Plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction to
enjoin the school's closing. Doc. 22. On August 13, 2013,
after an expedited evidentiary ...