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Eilenfeldt v. United C.U.S.D. 304 Bd. of Educ.

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Rock Island Division

March 25, 2015

PAMELA EILENFELDT, as next friend of her minor child, J.M., Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED C.U.S.D. #304 BOARD OF EDUCATION, a Political Subdivision of the State of Illinois; JEFF WHITSITT, an individual; KRISTEN NELSON, an individual; RYAN WESTART, an individual; LORI SCHROCK, an individual; DONNA WINBIGLER, an individual; DENNIS BROWN, an individual; and DOES I-XX, inclusive, Defendants

For Pamela Eilenfeldt, as next friend of her minor child, J.M., Plaintiff: Jason J Bach, LEAD ATTORNEY, THE BACH LAW FIRM, LLC, Las Vegas, NV.

For United CUSD 304 Board of Education, a Political Subdivision of the State of Illinois, Jeff Whitsitt, individually and in his official capacity as superintendent of schools, Kristen Nelson, individually and in her official capacity as principal of United Junior High School, Ryan Westart, Lori Schrock, Donna Winbigler, Dennis Brown Defendants: John E Cassidy, III, LEAD ATTORNEY, CASSIDY & MUELLER, Peoria, IL.

ORDER

SARA DARROW, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

Plaintiff Pamela Eilenfeldt brings this action on behalf of her son J.M., claiming he was continuously bullied and harassed when he was in the seventh and eighth grades at United Junior High School in Monmouth, Illinois. Eilenfeldt alleges that Defendants enabled and, in some instances, encouraged students to bully and harass J.M. Before the Court are several motions filed by Defendants: a Motion for Direction from the Court in Regards to March 25, 2014 Order, ECF No. 32, a Motion to Dismiss the Second Amended Complaint, ECF No. 36, a Motion For Leave to File a Memorandum in Support Motion to Dismiss in Excess of the Page Limit, ECF No. 37, and a Motion to Supplement Case Law in Support of Motion to Dismiss Second Amended Complaint, ECF No. 40. For the following reasons, the motion for direction is MOOT, the motion to dismiss is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART, the motion seeking leave to file extra pages is GRANTED, and the Motion to Supplement is DENIED.

BACKGROUND[1]

I. Parties

Eilenfeldt brings this action on behalf of her minor child J.M. against various individuals and entities associated with the United Community Unit School District #304 (" C.U.S.D." or " School District" ). Eilenfeldt asserts that Defendants acted under color of law and makes her claims against each individual Defendant in his or her individual capacity. Defendants' identities are as follows:

1. Defendant C.U.S.D. (the " School District" ) is a political subdivision of the State of Illinois and operates United Junior High School, a public educational institution located in Monmouth, Illinois.
2. Defendant Jeff Whitsitt is the superintendent of schools for the School District.
3. Defendant Kristen Nelson is the principal of United Junior High School.
4. Defendants Ryan Westart, Lori Schrock, and Donna Winbigler are teachers at United Junior High School.
5. Defendant Dennis Brown is a guidance counselor at United Junior High School.
6. The true names and capacities of Defendants Doe I-XX[2] are unknown to Eilenfeldt. Eilenfeldt is informed and thereon alleges that each Defendant designated as Doe is responsible in some manner for the events referred to in this action and proximately caused J.M.'s injuries.

II. Bullying and Harassment of J.M.

Various students at United Junior High School began bullying and harassing J.M. in January 2011 when he was a seventh-grader. The bullying and harassment continued through the end of that academic year and into the following academic year when J.M. was an eighth grader. During this period, students bullied J.M. by, among other things, taunting, teasing, pushing, punching, and kicking him. Except for one instance of bullying, School District officials and United Junior High School administrators and teachers never investigated complaints that J.M. had been bullied or punished a student for bullying J.M. To the contrary, administrators and teachers facilitated ongoing bullying of J.M. by failing to stop the bullying, actively encouraging bullying, and punishing J.M. for defending himself while being bullied.

The bullying began in January, 2011 when " T1.," " P.," and " D1." (presumably other students, though Eilenfeldt does not make this clear) repeatedly shoved J.M. in the hallways and inappropriately touched him in the locker room. Eilenfeldt immediately reported this conduct to three of J.M.'s teachers, Westart, Winbigler, and a Mr. Noonan.[3] Despite the report, J.M.'s teachers did not investigate the incidents or punish the students who were involved. When responding to the complaints, Winbigler said that J.M. " brought some of this on himself."

These initial incidents were just the beginning of the bullying. Students verbally taunted J.M by calling him a rapist, pedophile, and child molester and suggesting that he was sexually attracted to young boys. In addition to the verbal bullying, students produced pictures, graffiti artwork, and videos depicting J.M. as a pedophile and child molester. Students also continued to physically bully J.M. For instance, students kicked, punched, and pushed J.M. One student even threatened to " shank" J.M. with a knife. While the student who threatened to " shank" J.M. was suspended for two weeks, none of the other students who bullied J.M. were punished. Eilenfeldt alleges that when J.M. tried to stand up for himself, J.M. was punished but the bullies were not.

Eilenfeldt continued to report instances of bullying to Principal Nelson and J.M.'s teachers, but almost nothing resulted from these complaints. Instead, they usually blamed J.M. for the bullying. For example, Winbigler said that J.M. " gives back about as much as he gets" and that he just " needs to stay away from certain kids" and " learn how to make life easier for himself." In another example, Eilenfeldt complained to Principal Nelson that it was difficult for J.M. to focus on learning because students had been calling him sexually perverted names, repeatedly punching him in the head, and kicking him in the legs. Principal Nelson responded that the bullying was J.M.'s fault and punished him by assigning him a seat on the school bus.

The bullying and harassment continued into the next school year when J.M. was in the eighth grade. Eilenfeldt continued complaining to school administrators and teachers, but they did not do anything to stop the bullying. Instead, their conduct facilitated more bullying. For example, a Ms. Kopriva gave J.M. detention for telling two ...


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