United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
S. Jain, for herself and on behalf of her minor son “A, ” Plaintiffs,
Butler Illinois School District 53, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
RONALD A. GUZMÁN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Court grants Defendants' motions to dismiss  ,
and this case is dismissed without prejudice. Plaintiff may
file an amended complaint, if her counsel can do so in good
faith and in keeping with Rule 11, by 9/21/2017. Should
Plaintiff fail to file her amended complaint consistent with
this order or within the allotted time, the entire case shall
be dismissed with prejudice for failure to comply with a
court order and/or for failure to prosecute.
a Section 1983 case pertaining to the investigation and
discipline of Plaintiff S. Jain's minor son
“A” for academic dishonesty.
sprawling 69-page complaint, Plaintiff alleges a litany of
purported (and misguided) constitutional claims against
Defendants, ranging from due process violations “under
the 5th, 6th, 10th, and 14th Amendments” regarding the
investigation of A's academic dishonesty, to claims that
Defendants violated A's Fifth Amendment rights when he
was questioned in the principal's office (despite no law
enforcement being present or any threat of criminal
prosecution). (4th Am. Compl. [Dkt. # 42] at 37.) The
complaint itself, moreover, is riddled with ambiguity and
imprecision, and the facts alleged are presented in a
disorganized fashion. The combination of these shortcomings
makes it difficult to discern the precise nature of
Plaintiff's claims. The Court will therefore attempt to
frame the pertinent facts in a logical fashion and then turn
to specific allegations within the context of its analysis.
The National Geographic Spelling Bee and Initial
formerly a fifth grade student at Butler School District 53.
In January 2016, Dr. Heidi Wennstrom (the district
Superintendent) received a report suggesting that Plaintiff
and other District 53 parents were engaging in unethical and
deceptive practices in order to provide A and other students
with unfair advantages in the National Geographic Bee (the
“GeoBee”), which is an extracurricular academic
activity. Specifically, the report stated that the subject
parents obtained the official questions for the GeoBee in
advance by illegitimately registering themselves as
educators, thus prompting an investigation by Dr. Wennstrom.
investigation came to a head on January 19, 2016, when
Assistant Principal Lisa Owen escorted A out of his classroom
and brought him to the Principal's office, where he was
“interrogated” for over an hour by Dr. Wennstrom
and Principal Kelly Voliva. Neither A nor his parents were
informed of this meeting (or the accusations) ahead of time.
According to Plaintiff, Wennstrom, Owen, and Voliva
intimidated A until he falsely admitted to cheating (i.e.,
that his parents gave him an unauthorized copy of that
year's GeoBee test in advance). Thus, given A's
admissions, and combined with her review of the evidence and
discussions with GeoBee administrators and other students,
Dr. Wennstrom concluded that A had cheated with the help of
his parents and documented her findings in a letter to
Plaintiff dated February 8, 2016.
letter states in pertinent part as follows:
The District was able to confirm . . .:
1. You falsified registration with WordMasters [a separate
spelling bee] and signed up as a homeschool provider in order
to access contest questions in advance . . . so your child
would have an unfair advantage during the contest.
[. . . . ]
5. You obtained the official [GeoBee] contest questions by
accessing them through a shared joint email and password with
another District parent prior to the first day of the contest
on January 19, 2016.
6. Your child admitted that prior to the January 19, 2016
[GeoBee], you reviewed and studied with your child the actual
contest questions. . . . Your child identified approximately
20 questions by content and answer choices that he was
exposed to prior to the contest.
7. Your child engaged in academic dishonesty and cheating on
the WordMasters Challenge and [GeoBee] with your assistance.
8. You obtained copies of school assessments, specifically
the Foutnas & Pinnell assessment, and reviewed and such
with your child prior to his reassessment of the entrance
exam into the Advanced Learning Program. . . . Due to your
child's [improper] exposure to the material . . . .
entrance to the ALP ELA class was based on an inaccurate
9. You have declined to meet with the District Administration
as part of this investigation even though a request to do so
was provided three times.
findings of my investigation yielded a clear picture of
intentional academic dishonesty and unethical behaviors
harmful to the District, its students, and your child. . . .
Based on such and the above outlined findings, the District
is immediately instituting the following sanctions:
1. Your child is no longer permitted to participate in any
Butler 53 School District academic contests and/or
competitions, team or individual, while he is a student
within the District. Your child is allowed to participate in
after school clubs, activities, and extracurricular
activities that do not have an academic contest and/or
2. You are not permitted to serve in any capacity as a parent
volunteer in any school related contests. . . .
3. Based upon entrance data that provided inaccurate academic
standing, the District could remove your child from ALP ELA.
However, at this time we will keep your child in ALP ELA and
continue to monitor [his performance].
(Wennstrom Letter [Dkt. # 54, Ex. A] at 22-23.) That same
day, Dr. Wennstrom also sent an email to teachers,
administrators, and parents within the District explaining
the investigation, her findings, and policy changes in the
District's extracurricular programs to discourage
cheating in the future. The letter did not, however, mention
Plaintiff, A, or any ...