from the Circuit Court of the 10th Judicial Circuit, Peoria
County, Illinois Circuit No. 12-MR-317 Honorable James A.
Mack, Judge, Presiding.
JUSTICE SCHMIDT delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Holdridge and Wright concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 Plaintiff, Steven Stimeling, suffered an on-the-job injury
while working as a "security officer" or
"school resource officer" for defendant, Peoria
Public School District 150 (District). When he returned to
work three days later, he performed only clerical and
administrative tasks. He continued working in a clerical and
administrative role until the District terminated his
employment approximately two years later. After his
termination, plaintiff filed suit seeking benefits under the
Public Employee Disability Act (Disability Act) (5 ILCS 345/1
(West 2016)) and Public Safety Employee Benefits Act
(Benefits Act) (820 ILCS 320/10 (West 2016)). The parties
filed and argued cross-motions for summary judgment. The
motions disputed whether the District employed plaintiff as a
"law enforcement officer" entitled to Disability
Act and Benefits Act benefits. The trial court entered an
order granting summary judgment in the District's favor.
Plaintiff appeals this order. We affirm the trial court's
3 I. Plaintiff's Employment
4 The District hired plaintiff as a "security
agent" in March 1994. Some of his job responsibilities
included patrolling school hallways and restrooms, checking
hall passes, clearing school buildings of unauthorized
visitors, directing traffic in school parking lots,
"assisting as directed by school authorities in stopping
disturbances and undue distractions" on school grounds,
and "assisting all law enforcement officers whenever
5 The District arranged for plaintiff to receive police
training and certification through the Illinois Law
Enforcement Training and Standards Board (ILETSB). He became
certified as a police officer for the "Peoria Public
School Police Department." Plaintiff utilized his
training and certification to work as a police officer for
the Peoria Park District, the Eureka Police Department, and
the Marquette Heights Police Department.
6 In August 2011, the District imposed a new policy, titled
"Board Policy on School Resource Officers" (Board
Policy 5:400), which changed the name of "campus police
officers" or "security agents" to "school
resource officers." The policy characterized resource
officers as "district truant officers" under the
School Code (105 ILCS 5/26-5 (West 2016)). The policy
explicitly authorized resource officers to "arrest"
students only for truancy violations; resource
officers lacked authority to issue citations or investigate
any nontruancy crime.
7 In 2012, the ILETSB informed the District that school
resource officers could no longer receive police training
unless the District demonstrated its legal authority to
maintain a police department. The District eventually
conceded that it lacked such authority. The ILETSB thereafter
designated the "Peoria Public School Police
Department" inactive and discontinued police training
for the District's resource officers.
8 II. Plaintiff's Injury and Termination
9 On November 17, 2009, plaintiff sustained an on-the-job
injury when a student attacked him. The student elbowed
plaintiff in the eye, which caused his neck to "snap
back." Plaintiff returned to work on November 20, but he
performed only clerical and administrative functions. He
remained in this clerical and administrative role for the
remainder of the 2009-10 school year and the entire 2010-11
10 Early in the 2011-12 school year, plaintiff took medical
leave from the District pursuant to the Family and Medical
Leave Act of 1993 (29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq.
(2012)). He never returned to work. After plaintiff exhausted
his allotment of paid and unpaid leave, the District
terminated his employment.
11 Plaintiff filed this lawsuit after his termination. He
sought a declaratory judgment as to whether the Disability
Act and Benefits Act entitled him to disability benefits
awarded to "law enforcement officers" who sustain
injuries in the line of duty. See 5 ILCS 345/1(a) (West
2016); 820 ILCS 320/10 (West 2016). If so, the District would
be responsible for funding these benefits. The parties
disputed whether plaintiff ever worked as a law ...