Stratton v. Wenona Community Unit Dist. No. 1, No. 67693

CourtSupreme Court of Illinois
Writing for the CourtCALVO
Citation133 Ill.2d 413,141 Ill.Dec. 453,551 N.E.2d 640
Docket NumberNo. 67693
Decision Date16 February 1990
Parties, 141 Ill.Dec. 453, 59 Ed. Law Rep. 146 Anthony M. STRATTON, a Minor, by Richard Stratton, his Father and Next Friend, Appellee, v. WENONA COMMUNITY UNIT DISTRICT NO. 1 et al., Appellants.

Page 640

551 N.E.2d 640
133 Ill.2d 413, 141 Ill.Dec. 453, 59
Ed. Law Rep. 146
Anthony M. STRATTON, a Minor, by Richard Stratton, his
Father and Next Friend, Appellee,
v.
WENONA COMMUNITY UNIT DISTRICT NO. 1 et al., Appellants.
No. 67693.
Supreme Court of Illinois.
Feb. 16, 1990.

Page 641

[133 Ill.2d 418] [141 Ill.Dec. 454] Jeffrey C. Taylor, Everett E. Nicholas, Jr., Robbins, Schwartz, Nicholas, Lifton & Taylor, Ltd., Decatur, for appellants.

William C. Zukosky, Urbana, and Edward Zukosky, Wenona, for appellee.

Justice CALVO delivered the opinion of the court:

Anthony Stratton, by his father, Richard Stratton, filed a petition in the circuit court of Marshall County seeking a writ of certiorari, declaratory relief, and an injunction to prevent Anthony's expulsion from Wenona Community Unit District No. 1 (District). The circuit court issued the writ of certiorari, denied the Strattons' request for injunctive relief, and entered judgment in favor of the District and its board members. The Strattons appealed, and the appellate court reversed, citing procedural error in the circuit court and a denial of due process in the District's expulsion proceeding. (171 Ill.App.3d 640, 122 Ill. Dec. 61, 526 N.E.2d 201.) We granted the District leave to appeal.

Pursuant to a March 26, 1987, vote of the District's board of education, Anthony Stratton was expelled from high school for "gross misconduct." Thereafter, on April 2, 1987, Anthony, by his father, filed a petition in the circuit court alleging that the District, and the individual members of the board, "willfully disregarded" various constitutional and statutory provisions in the proceedings which culminated in Anthony's expulsion.

The petition alleged, in essence, that (1) notice of the expulsion hearing was inadequate in that (a) the letter required by statute was handed to one parent, rather than sent by registered or certified mail to both, (b) Anthony was not notified, (c) the notice stated "no facts" to support expulsion, and (d) the notice allowed insufficient time in which to prepare a defense; (2) a continuance--not conditioned upon Anthony's continued suspension[133 Ill.2d 419] from school--should have been granted (a) to allow the Strattons time to prepare for the hearing, and (b) to obtain a court reporter or recording device; (3) the "grounds" for expulsion should have been "stated with particularity"; (4) the superintendent was using the expulsion hearing for personal reasons; (5) the board violated the Open Meetings Act (Ill.Rev.Stat.1987, ch. 102, par. 41 et seq.); and (6) the District failed to comply with statutory procedures concerning Anthony's

Page 642

[141 Ill.Dec. 455] truancy. The Strattons requested, inter alia, that the court (1) declare the expulsion null and void; (2) issue an injunction commanding the District to readmit Anthony; and (3) enter an order directing that the suspension and expulsion be expunged from Anthony's school records. The Strattons requested, and were granted, a preliminary injunction, gaining Anthony's readmittance to school pending the outcome of proceedings in the circuit court.

On April 22, 1987, the date set for hearing, the Strattons were granted leave to amend their petition. The amended petition identified two bases for the action which were not included in the Strattons' original petition. The amended petition stated in pertinent part:

"This action is brought requesting the Court to grant certiorari and grant declaratory relief and an injunction pursuant to Illinois Code of Civil Procedure § 11-101 et seq. This action is also brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983."

In preliminary argument, counsel for the Strattons moved to strike references in the District's answer to anything beyond the minutes of the board meeting of March 26, 1987. Counsel explained the "two-fold" nature of the Strattons' petition which he claimed justified his motion. First, the Strattons requested the court to "grant certiorari" and review the proceedings of the board solely upon an inspection of its record, i.e., the board's minutes or matters incorporated therein. No evidence[133 Ill.2d 420] beyond the board's minutes would be considered. In the event the certiorari proceeding failed to resolve disputed issues, the Strattons contended, evidence could then be taken on the civil rights count.

The District's counsel noted that the answer the District had filed was in response to the original petition, not the amended petition raising certiorari; therefore the motion to strike was inappropriate. Further, counsel argued that the Strattons had to prove the board acted arbitrarily or capriciously, regardless of the type of action involved.

The court rejected the Strattons' position, ruling that evidence would not be limited to the "record." The court defined "record" as "the record of the school district in the proceedings recorded at the school in the transcript."

The Strattons then had four exhibits marked for identification. Exhibit No. 1 was the minutes of the board's executive session held on March 26, 1987, wherein matters relating to expulsion were considered; Exhibit No. 2 was the minutes of the open meeting held on the same date, wherein the vote on expulsion was announced; Exhibit No. 3 was an authorization and request for Anthony's school records; and Exhibit No. 4 was a letter, signed by Superintendent Fred Sams, informing Mr. and Mrs. Stratton of the impending expulsion hearing. The exhibits were admitted into evidence, and the Strattons rested.

The Strattons then moved for a directed verdict. Contending that the entire record of the expulsion proceeding was before the court for purposes of certiorari review, the Strattons argued that the board of education acted without jurisdiction and proceeded illegally "under the Fourteenth Amendment, the Open Meetings Act, and the Illinois School Code." The Strattons challenged the sufficiency of the minutes in that the letter providing [133 Ill.2d 421] notice of the expulsion hearing was never incorporated into the minutes, and the minutes noted only that certain witnesses were called and failed to incorporate the substance of their testimony. Counsel concluded, "There is absolutely no evidence in the minutes as to why he [Anthony] was expelled."

The circuit court took the Strattons' motion under advisement and proceeded to hear additional evidence pursuant to section 3(b) of the Open Meetings Act (Ill.Rev.Stat.1987, ch. 102, par. 43(b)), which provides that a court "may examine in camera any portion of the minutes of a meeting at which a violation of the Act is alleged to have occurred, and may take such additional evidence as it deems necessary." The District proceeded to call witnesses who testified regarding matters referred to in the minutes of the board of education and subjects beyond the minutes.

Page 643

[141 Ill.Dec. 456] Fred Sams, district superintendent, testified that he prepared and kept the minutes of the board of education. Sams identified the official board minutes for March 9, 17, 23 and 26, 1987, July 14 and August 20, 1986, and November 11, 1985. Superintendent Sams identified a parent/student handbook which set forth rules of student conduct and which had been adopted by the board as evidenced by the board's August 20 minutes. Sams also identified the District's policy manual which had been adopted by the board at its November 11, 1985, meeting.

Superintendent Sams then identified a packet of documents which, he testified, had been presented at the expulsion hearing for the board's consideration and, among other things, included a chronological history of Anthony Stratton's behavior problems as compiled by Principal Lorin Stevens and Superintendent Sams, as well as various letters to Anthony's parents pertaining to Anthony's behavioral problems. The Strattons objected to consideration[133 Ill.2d 422] of the materials in the packet to the extent that there was "no reference in the minutes to [the] packet or any part of it." The objection was overruled and Mr. Sams thereafter testified extensively regarding documents in the packet, the manner of compilation thereof, and meetings he and Principal Stevens had with the Strattons concerning disciplinary problems referred to therein. The superintendent, in his testimony, recounted the events which transpired at the March 26, 1987, expulsion hearing. Stevens also testified that supportive services were provided for Anthony for truancy.

During the course of Sams' testimony, the circuit court granted a writ of certiorari, but held that formal requirements were not necessary and proceeded to hear evidence beyond the board's minutes.

Robert Sanders, the district guidance counselor, testified that he had appeared at the March 26, 1987, meeting of the board of education and had recounted an incident involving Anthony which had occurred approximately one week earlier. Sanders provided Anthony counseling for truancy.

Lorin Stevens, the district principal, testified as to what he had told the board on the evening of March 26, 1987. Stevens related three incidents of misconduct and rule violations involving Anthony. The first incident arose from a confrontation between Anthony and another student in a physical education class on December 4, 1986. Stevens was summoned by Mr. Beckman, Anthony's teacher. When Stevens requested that Anthony come over to where Stevens was standing, Anthony walked away from him, and stated, "I don't have to kiss anybody's ass just because I'm on probation." When Stevens told Anthony to go home and get his mother, Anthony responded by saying, either to Stevens or Beckman, "If I go back to jail, I'll get even with you." Stevens told Anthony he had a witness to [133 Ill.2d 423] that statement, referring to a student nearby. Anthony went face-to-face with the student and said, "You didn't hear anything, did you[?]" Anthony then walked away. The second incident occurred on...

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122 practice notes
  • Garcia v. Village of Mount Prospect, No. 02-2869.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • February 23, 2004
    ...claims joined with an administrative review of a distinct claim before the circuit court);11 Stratton v. Wenona Cmty. Unit Dist. No. 1, 133 Ill.2d 413, 141 Ill. Dec. 453, 551 N.E.2d 640 (1990) (holding that § 1983 claims may be joined with an administrative review);12 with Faulkner-King, 16......
  • Graff v. City of Chicago, No. 92-2352
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • November 24, 1993
    ...law writ of certiorari. Holstein v. City of Chicago, 803 F.Supp. 205, 210 (N.D.Ill.1992); Stratton v. Wenona Comm'n Unit Dist. No. 1, 133 Ill.2d 413, 141 Ill.Dec. 453, 458, 551 N.E.2d 640, 645 (Ill.App.1990); Norton v. Nicholson, 187 Ill.App.3d 1046, 135 Ill.Dec. 485, 491, 543 N.E.2d 1053, ......
  • Dookeran v. Cnty. of Cook, No. 11–3197.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • May 3, 2013
    ...Stykel v. City of Freeport, 318 Ill.App.3d 839, 252 Ill.Dec. 368, 742 N.E.2d 906, 914 (2001); Stratton v. Wenona Cmty. Unit Dist. No. 1, 133 Ill.2d 413, 141 Ill.Dec. 453, 551 N.E.2d 640 (1990)). The text of IHRA and the presumption of concurrent jurisdiction cast further doubt on the Cahoon......
  • Fillmore v. Taylor, NO. 4-16-0309
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • July 12, 2017
    ...), with the result that the petitioner suffered "substantial injury or injustice" ( Stratton v. Wenona Community Unit District No. 1 , 133 Ill. 2d 413, 428, 141 Ill.Dec. 453, 551 N.E.2d 640 (1990) ). If the plaintiff (1) was a party to the administrative proceeding ( Board of Education of W......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
122 cases
  • Garcia v. Village of Mount Prospect, No. 02-2869.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • February 23, 2004
    ...claims joined with an administrative review of a distinct claim before the circuit court);11 Stratton v. Wenona Cmty. Unit Dist. No. 1, 133 Ill.2d 413, 141 Ill. Dec. 453, 551 N.E.2d 640 (1990) (holding that § 1983 claims may be joined with an administrative review);12 with Faulkner-King, 16......
  • Graff v. City of Chicago, No. 92-2352
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • November 24, 1993
    ...law writ of certiorari. Holstein v. City of Chicago, 803 F.Supp. 205, 210 (N.D.Ill.1992); Stratton v. Wenona Comm'n Unit Dist. No. 1, 133 Ill.2d 413, 141 Ill.Dec. 453, 458, 551 N.E.2d 640, 645 (Ill.App.1990); Norton v. Nicholson, 187 Ill.App.3d 1046, 135 Ill.Dec. 485, 491, 543 N.E.2d 1053, ......
  • Dookeran v. Cnty. of Cook, No. 11–3197.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • May 3, 2013
    ...Stykel v. City of Freeport, 318 Ill.App.3d 839, 252 Ill.Dec. 368, 742 N.E.2d 906, 914 (2001); Stratton v. Wenona Cmty. Unit Dist. No. 1, 133 Ill.2d 413, 141 Ill.Dec. 453, 551 N.E.2d 640 (1990)). The text of IHRA and the presumption of concurrent jurisdiction cast further doubt on the Cahoon......
  • Fillmore v. Taylor, NO. 4-16-0309
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • July 12, 2017
    ...), with the result that the petitioner suffered "substantial injury or injustice" ( Stratton v. Wenona Community Unit District No. 1 , 133 Ill. 2d 413, 428, 141 Ill.Dec. 453, 551 N.E.2d 640 (1990) ). If the plaintiff (1) was a party to the administrative proceeding ( Board of Education of W......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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