United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
W. DARRAH United States District Court Judge.
Jennifer DiPerna, filed a Second Amended Complaint against
Defendant, the Chicago School of Professional Psychology,
alleging breach of contract and negligence. Defendant filed a
Motion for Summary Judgment  on all counts. For the
reasons set forth more fully below, Defendant's Motion
for Summary Judgment  is granted in part and denied in
Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires the moving party to provide “a
statement of material facts as to which the party contends
there is no genuine issue for trial.” Ammons v.
Aramark Uniform Servs., 368 F.3d 809, 817 (7th Cir.
2004). Local Rule 56.1(b)(3) requires the nonmoving party to
admit or deny every factual statement proffered by the moving
party and to concisely designate any material facts that
establish a genuine dispute for trial. See Schrott v.
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., 403 F.3d 940, 944 (7th Cir.
2005). A nonmovant's “mere disagreement with the
movant's asserted facts is inadequate if made without
reference to specific supporting material.” Smith
v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003). In the case
of any disagreement, the nonmoving party must reference
affidavits, parts of the record, and other materials that
support his stance. Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B). To the extent
that a response to a statement of material fact provides only
extraneous or argumentative information, this response will
not constitute a proper denial of the fact, and the fact is
admitted. See Graziano v. Vill. of Oak Park, 401
F.Supp.2d 918, 936 (N.D. Ill. 2005). Similarly, to the extent
that a statement of fact contains a legal conclusion or
otherwise unsupported statement, including a fact that relies
upon inadmissible hearsay, such a fact is disregarded.
Eisenstadt v. Centel Corp., 113 F.3d 738, 742 (7th Cir.
1997). Pursuant to Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C), the nonmovant
may submit additional statements of material facts that
“require the denial of summary judgment.”
district court is entitled to expect strict compliance with
Rule 56.1; substantial compliance is not enough.
Ammons, 368 F.3d at 817. “When a responding
party's statement fails to dispute the facts set forth in
the moving party's statement in the manner dictated by
the rule, those facts are deemed admitted for purposes of the
motion.” Curtis v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 807
F.3d 215, 218 (7th Cir. 2015) (quoting Cracco v. Vitran
Express, Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009)).
following facts are taken from the parties' statements of
undisputed material facts submitted in accordance with Local
is currently a resident of Ohio and is a former student of
Defendant. (DSOF ¶¶ 1, 3.) Defendant is a nonprofit
private institution that operated under the policies,
procedures, rules, and regulations set out in the Academic
Catalogue and Student Handbook (the “Handbook”)
during the years 2012-13, 2013-14, and 2014-15. (Id.
¶ 4.) Plaintiff was seeking a Master of Arts in
Counseling Psychology from Defendant. (Id. ¶
January 2013, Plaintiff took “Diversity in Clinical
Practice” with Dr. Patricia Perez, an adjunct faculty
member. (Id.) As part of the class, student groups,
selected by Dr. Perez, participated in an “Immersion
Project” where those groups examined a race, ethnicity,
or other characteristic different than those of the group
member. (Id. ¶ 25.) Plaintiff, who is white,
was put into a group with two African-American women, Shakira
and Catherine. (Id. ¶ 26.) As part of the
project, the group examined the LGBT community and went to
see a drag show on April 7, 2013. (Id. ¶ 27.)
After that outing, Shakira e-mailed Dr. Perez and expressed
concerns about Plaintiff's ability to work with clients
of a diverse background based on a discussion the group had
about privileged status, based on race, during the outing.
(Id. ¶ 29.) Sometime between April 7 and April
15, 2013, Plaintiff met with Dr. Perez privately about what
had happened at the outing. (Id. ¶ 30.)
April 16, 2013, Dr. Perez had meetings with each Immersion
Project group. (Id. ¶ 32.) During that meeting,
the issue of privilege was raised; and Plaintiff and
Catherine had a disagreement. (Id. ¶¶
33-34.) Dr. Perez encouraged the students to speak to each
other so they could work out differences within the group.
(Id. ¶ 35.) Plainitff went to see the Associate
Department Chair, Dr. Maureen Keeshin, to express her
concerns because her advisor was out of town. (Id.
¶ 36.) Dr. Keeshin told Plaintiff to speak to her
advisor when she returned but said that Plaintiff should see
Dr. Maria Yapondjian, who oversaw adjunct faculty, in the
meantime. (Id. ¶ 37.) Plaintiff met with Dr.
Yapondjian on April 17, 2013, and said that she did not want
to be in the class anymore because she was not comfortable
with Dr. Perez or Shakira. (Id. ¶ 38.) Dr.
Yapondjian told Plaintiff that she would have to remain in
the class because there were only two class sessions left.
(Id. ¶ 39.) On April 18, 2013, after hearing
from Dr. Yapondjian, Dr. Perez told Plaintiff that she could
present her Immersion Project Findings individually.
(Id. ¶ 40.) On April 23, 2013, Plaintiff met
with Dr. Perez and told her that people were calling her
color blind, making comments, and pointing at her when those
people were with Shakira. (Id. ¶ 41.)
15, 2013, two African-American students who were not involved
in the Immersion Project reported to an adjunct professor
that Plaintiff had posted a photograph with Paula Deen using
a racial slur on Plaintiff's Instagram account and asked
the adjunct professor to forward their concerns to
Defendant's administration. (Id. ¶¶
47, 48.) Towards the end of that summer, those two students
reiterated their concerns about the posting with Dr. Keeshin,
who was then Plaintiff's advisor and Associate Department
Chair, and Dr. Virginia Quiňonez, then-Department Chair.
(Id. ¶¶ 43, 47.)
August 1, 2013, Dr. Quiňonez and Dr. Luke Mudd,
Associate Department Chair, met with Plaintiff for a
counseling session regarding the Instagram post.
(Id. ¶ 48.) Plaintiff admitted posting the
picture and stated that she saw nothing wrong with it, as it
was posted on her private Instagram account and was meant to
be humorous. (Id.) Dr. Quiňonez and Dr. Mudd
did not tell Plaintiff who the reporting students were.
(Id. ¶ 50.) Plaintiff reiterated her prior
issues with Shakira to Dr. Quiňonez and Dr. Mudd and
contended that Shakira's Instagram posts, which used
similar racial slurs, should be treated in the same manner.
(Id. ¶ 49.) In early August 2013, shortly after
their meeting, Dr. Quiňonez provided Plaintiff with a
link to a complaint procedure to look at with respect to her
bullying complaints. (Id. ¶ 53.) Dr.
Quiňonez also told Plaintiff to follow up with her
advisor about any other concerns. (Id. ¶ 54.)
Quiňonez and Dr. Mudd, in consultation with Dr. Keeshin,
referred Plaintiff to the Student Affairs Committee
(“SAC”). (Id. ¶¶ 13, 55.) A
student may be referred to the SAC for issues relating to
academic integrity and comportment, where
“‘[p]ossible interventions and sanction[s] may
include, but are not limited to, implementing an Academic
Development Plan [“ADP”], placing a student on
academic warning/probation or dismissing a student' with
respect to academic integrity matters such as
plagiarism.” (Id. ¶ 13.) After SAC
hearings, the SAC delayed her required program internship and
gave her an ADP, which she successfully completed.
(Id. ¶ 56.) Plaintiff did not appeal the ADP or
the delay in her internship. (Id. ¶ 59.)
September 2013, Plaintiff spoke with Dr. Keeshin and told Dr.
Keeshin that she was being bullied. (Id. ¶ 43.)
Dr. Keeshin told Plaintiff that she could file a grievance.
(Id. ¶ 44.)
January 2015, Plaintiff took a required Seminar course with
Dr. Kristin Davisson, an adjunct professor. (Id.
¶ 61.) A main part of the course is the Clinical
Competency Examination (“CCE”). (Id.
¶ 62.) Successfully completing the CCE establishes that
a student has met the program's requirements to graduate.
(Id. ¶ 63.) A student drafts the CCE based on
their concurrent clinical internship experience.
(Id. ¶ 64.) The CCE must be drafted in
compliance with Defendant's plagiarism policy.
(Id. ¶ 65.) One part of the CCE is the
conceptualization, or case formulation, section, which
requires a student to use a specific theory they have learned
and apply it to their client and that client's symptoms.
(Id. ¶ 66.) Dr. Davisson believed that the
conceptualization portion of Plaintiff's paper was
plagiarized and ran Plaintiff's paper through a web-based
program designed to detect plagiarism, turnitin.com.
(Id. ¶¶ 71, 72.) The conceptualization
portion was marked by turnitin.com as 92% plagiarized from
other sources without proper attribution, and the entire CCE
was marked as 10% plagiarized from other sources without
proper attribution. (Id.) Dr. Davisson reported the
plagiarism to Dr. Mudd, who then mandated referral to the
SAC. (Id. ¶ 74.) On March 25, 2015, Plaintiff
met with Dr. Davisson and Dr. Mudd to discuss the plagiarism
accusations. (PSOF, ¶ 22.)
12, 2015, Plaintiff had her SAC hearing in regards to the
plagiarism charges. (Id. ¶ 23.) At the hearing,
Plaintiff complained about Dr. Davisson's unprofessional
breach of protocol, unfair selective treatment, and
retaliation from this litigation. (Id. ¶ 24.)
On May 13, 2015, Plaintiff was notified of the SAC's
decision to dismiss her from the program. (Id.