Brandt v. Board of Educ. of City of Chicago, No. 04 C 0904.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
Writing for the CourtEve
PartiesMichael D. BRANDT, minor, by his parent, Stephen M. Brandt; Rebecca L. Darugar, minor, by her parent, Lori Darugar; Aldo S.K. Van Enck, minor, by his parent, Sara Katayanagi Van Enck; on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v. BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO; Chris N. Kotis, individually and officially; Janice M. Rosales, individually and officially; Christine Laughlin, individually and officially; Mary Chancy, individually and officially, Defendants.
Decision Date13 March 2006
Docket NumberNo. 04 C 0904.

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420 F.Supp.2d 921
Michael D. BRANDT, minor, by his parent, Stephen M. Brandt; Rebecca L. Darugar, minor, by her parent, Lori Darugar; Aldo S.K. Van Enck, minor, by his parent, Sara Katayanagi Van Enck; on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO; Chris N. Kotis, individually and officially; Janice M. Rosales, individually and officially; Christine Laughlin, individually and officially; Mary Chancy, individually and officially, Defendants.
No. 04 C 0904.
United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division.
March 13, 2006.

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James L. Bowers, Chicago, IL, for Plaintiffs.

Cheryl J. Colston, Board of Educ. of the City of Chicago, Dept. of Law, Chicago, IL, Mark A. Trent, Chicago Board of Education, Chicago, IL, Ruth M. Moscovitch, Sherri Thornton, Chicago Board of Educ., Law Dept., Chicago, IL, for Bd. of Educ. of City of Chicago.

James Jordan Seaberry, Jr., Chicago School Reform Board of Trustees, Chicago, IL, Ruth M. Moscovitch, Board of Education of City of Chicago, Chicago, IL, for Chris N. Kotis.

Rohit Sahgal, Chicago School Reform Board of Trustees, Chicago, IL, Linda Hogan, Sherri Thornton, Board of Education of City of Chicago, Department of Law, Chicago, IL, Ruth M. Moscovitch, Board of Education of City Of Chicago, Chicago, IL, for Janice M. Rosales.

James Jordan Seaberry, Jr., Chicago School Reform, Board of Trustees, Chicago, IL, Susan Margaret O'Keefe, Chicago Board of Education Law Department, Chicago, IL, for Christine Laughlin, Mary Clancy.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

ST. EVE, District Judge.


The parents of minor Plaintiffs Michael Brandt, Rebecca Darugar, and Aldo Van Enck filed the present Amended Class Action Complaint on behalf of their children and all others similarly situated against Defendants Board of Education of the City of Chicago, Chris Kotis, Janice Rosales, Christine Laughlin, and Mary Clancy. In their Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants violated their First Amendment right to free speech. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Before the Court are the parties' Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of

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Civil Procedure 56(c). For the following reasons, the Court denies Plaintiffs' Partial Motion for Summary Judgment and grants Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment.

BACKGROUND

I. Northern District of Illinois Local Rules

When determining summary judgment motions, the Court derives the background facts from the parties' Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1 statements. The Local Rules provide parties with specific details as to how litigants in the Northern District of Illinois should approach summary judgment motions and responses. Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires the moving party to provide "a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue." 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. The parties' statements must contain short numbered paragraphs including references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials. Ammons v. Aramark Uniform Servs., Inc., 368 F.3d 809, 817 (7th Cir.2004); Malec v. Sanford, 191 F.R.D. 581, 583-85 (N.D.Ill.2000).

It is not appropriate to set forth additional facts in a Rule 56.1(b)(3) response statement, instead, the parties must include any additional facts in a separate Rule 56.1 statement. See Ammons, 368 F.3d at 817. Responses that are not contested are deemed admitted. Brengettcy v. Horton, 423 F.3d 674, 681 (7th Cir. 2005); Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir.2003). Statements and responses that do not properly cite to the record are subject to the Court's discretion as to their admissibility. See Brasic v. Heinemann's Inc., 121 F.3d 281, 284 (7th Cir.1997). The Court also reminds the parties that when citing to the record in their legal memoranda, they are required to cite to the numbered paragraphs of the Local Rule 56.1 Statements and not to the underlying record. See Malec, 191 F.R.D. at 586. With these principles in mind, the Court turns to the relevant facts of this case.1

II. Relevant Facts

A. Parties

Plaintiffs are a certified class of 24 of the 27 students who were in the eighth grade class in the Regional Gifted Center Program at Jean Baptiste Beaubien Elementary School ("Beaubien School") in Chicago, Illinois, during the 2002-03 school year. (R. 134-1, Pls.' Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 1; R. 140-1, Defs.' Joint Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 2.)

Defendant Board of Education of the City of Chicago ("Board") is a body politic and corporate in charge of overseeing the management and operations of a system of free schools known as the Chicago Public Schools. (Pls.' Stmt. ¶ 2.) Defendant Chris Kotis is the Principal of Beaubien Elementary School and was the Principal during the relevant time period. (Id. ¶ 3; Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 3.) The Board of Education has adopted a rule that specifically authorizes principals to exercise control over the

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school in all areas authorized by Illinois statute. (Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 9.) The Uniform Discipline Code ("UDC"), a series of rules and regulations that categorize different types of rule infractions and prescribe a range of consequences for each type of infraction, further defines Principal Kotis' role. (Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 10.) For example, the UDC requires students to dress in a manner that neither disrupts the educational process nor poses a safety hazard. (Id. ¶¶ 13, 22; R. 160-1, Pls.' Stmt. Add'l Facts ¶ 30.)

Defendant Mary Clancy was the Gifted Program Coordinator at Beaubien School during the 2002-03 school year. (Pls.' Stmt. ¶ 6; Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 4.) Defendant Christine Laughlin was the Assistant Principal at Beaubien School during the 2002-03 school year. (Pls.' Stmt. ¶ 5; Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 5.) Defendant Janice Rosales was the Chicago Public Schools Area Instructional Officer ("AIO") for Region One, Area One, which encompassed Beaubien School during the 2002-03 school year. (Pls.' Stmt. ¶ 4; Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 6.)

B. The T-Shirt

Beaubien School held an annual contest among the eighth grade students to determine the design for the class T-shirt. (R. 35-1, Am.Compl.¶ 32.) In the second semester of school year 2002-03, students submitted twenty designs for the Class of 2003 T-shirt election. (Id. ¶ 33; Defs.' Stmt. ¶¶ 55, 57, 59.) The eighth grade students did not choose Plaintiff Michael Brandt's T-shirt design for the official class T-shirt. (Id.) Michael Brandt's T-shirt design contained the image of a boy giving a thumbs-up signal with one hand with the other arm ending in a handless nub from which a leash extended to a dog labeled the school mascot "Beaubien Bulldog." (R. 137-1, Kotis' Mot. Summ. J., Ex. 2; Am. Compl. ¶ 34.) The boy is wearing a shirt that says, "Beaubien Class of 2003," and pants bearing a grid design. (Id.) After losing the T-shirt election, Plaintiffs added the word "gifties" to the back of the shirt. (Pls.' Stmt. Add'l Facts ¶ 5.)

C. The Petition

Principal Kotis prohibited the gifted students' T-shirt design as an alternative graduation shirt because a fair vote was conducted and the alternative T-shirt did not win the election. (Defs.' Stmt., Ex. A, C. Kotis Dep., at 56.) Thereafter, the gifted students drafted a petition for the other students to sign concerning their T-shirt. (Am. Compl. ¶ 38c; Defs.' Stmt, Ex. Z, R. Darugar Dep., at 67-70.) The petition indicated that the regular students had no objection to anyone wearing the alternative T-shirt. (Am.Compl.¶ 38c.) At her deposition, Rebecca Darugar testified that "the purpose of the petition was so that we could have and wear these T-shirts." (Defs.' Stmt., Ex. Z, R. Darugar Dep., at 67.) Rebecca Darugar also testified that they were going to give the petition to the Local School Council to show that they had support for their alternative T-shirt design. (Id. at 68.)

D. Local School Council Meeting

Also after Principal Kotis prohibited the alternative T-shirt design, he met with the gifted class and expressed his concerns about the anger over Michael Brandt's losing design. (Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 70 & Ex. A, Kotis Dep. at 68.) Kotis then invited the students to address the issue at the Local School Council meeting scheduled for the following week on February 19, 2003. (Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 70.) Thereafter, Michael Brandt addressed the Local School Council. (R. 166-1, Pls.' Resp. to Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 71.) At his deposition, Michael Brandt testified that when he addressed the Local School Council, he stated that his T-shirt design better represented the gifted students

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because the T-shirt "was made available to the gifted students, people who I had spent combined total of thousands of hours in close contact with. We felt that us having our own shirt better represented us than having a shirt shared with people with who [sic] we hardly knew." (Defs.' Stmt., Ex. M., M. Brandt's Dep. at 116-17.) Michael Brandt also told the Local School Council that the gifted class thought they had won the T-shirt election and felt frustrated that the school did not explain to them how the voting was conducted. (Pls.' Resp. to Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 71.) In the end, the Local School Council supported Principal Kotis' decision to prohibit the alternative T-shirts. (Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 75.)

E. Wearing the T-Shirts to School

Despite the T-shirt's prohibition, the gifted students produced the "gifties" T-shirt and 19 of the gifted students wore the T-shirts to school on April 1, 2003. (Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 76; Pls.' Stmt. ¶ 14.) Gifted student Nicholas Haak testified that it was "kind of ironic that we were doing it on April Fools' Day as an April Fools' joke." (Defs.' Stmt., Ex. DD, N....

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    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Kansas
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    ...F.2d at 631 (delegation of authority must be absolute to give rise to "final authority"); Brandt v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chicago, 420 F.Supp.2d 921, 937 (N.D.Ill.2006) (even though principal had discretion to make decisions pursuant to district policies and regulations, school board rule......
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    ...Creative Non-Violence, 468 U.S. 288, 293 n. 5, 104 S.Ct. 3065, 82 L.Ed.2d 221 (1984); Brandt v. Board of Education of City of Chicago, 420 F.Supp.2d 921, 931 (N.D.Ill.2006), aff'd, Brandt II; Northern Ind. Gun & Outdoor Shows, Inc. v. Hedman, 104 F.Supp.2d 1009, 1013 (N.D.Ind.2000). Ordinar......
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    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • March 18, 2019
    ...claims against the individual defendants—which are duplicative—are also dismissed. See Brandt v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chic., 420 F. Supp. 2d 921, 936 (N.D. Ill. 2006) (dismissing official capacity claims as duplicative of claims against the Board, noting that such official capacity claim......
  • Burton v. Bd. of Educ. for the City of Chi., Case No. 17 C 1337
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • March 23, 2018
    ...because they do not make city-wide policy decisions for the Chicago Public Schools. See Brandt v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chicago, 420 F. Supp. 2d 921, 937 (N.D. Ill. 2006), aff'd, 480 F.3d 460 (7th Cir. 2007) (Board of Education's rules "do not confer the authority for principals to make c......
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10 cases
  • Rubio v. Turner Unified School Dist. No. 202, Civil Action No. 05-2522-KHV.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Kansas
    • September 28, 2006
    ...F.2d at 631 (delegation of authority must be absolute to give rise to "final authority"); Brandt v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chicago, 420 F.Supp.2d 921, 937 (N.D.Ill.2006) (even though principal had discretion to make decisions pursuant to district policies and regulations, school board rule......
  • Zamecnik v. Indian Prairie School Dist. No. 204, No. 07 C 1586.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • December 21, 2007
    ...Creative Non-Violence, 468 U.S. 288, 293 n. 5, 104 S.Ct. 3065, 82 L.Ed.2d 221 (1984); Brandt v. Board of Education of City of Chicago, 420 F.Supp.2d 921, 931 (N.D.Ill.2006), aff'd, Brandt II; Northern Ind. Gun & Outdoor Shows, Inc. v. Hedman, 104 F.Supp.2d 1009, 1013 (N.D.Ind.2000). Ordinar......
  • Stevens v. Shelton, No. 17 C 8710
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • March 18, 2019
    ...claims against the individual defendants—which are duplicative—are also dismissed. See Brandt v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chic., 420 F. Supp. 2d 921, 936 (N.D. Ill. 2006) (dismissing official capacity claims as duplicative of claims against the Board, noting that such official capacity claim......
  • Burton v. Bd. of Educ. for the City of Chi., Case No. 17 C 1337
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • March 23, 2018
    ...because they do not make city-wide policy decisions for the Chicago Public Schools. See Brandt v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chicago, 420 F. Supp. 2d 921, 937 (N.D. Ill. 2006), aff'd, 480 F.3d 460 (7th Cir. 2007) (Board of Education's rules "do not confer the authority for principals to make c......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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