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Monday, May 21, 2018

No Due Process Violations Against School District

A dispute between a school board member and a student resulted in a lawsuit against the board member and a school district that made its way to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Manley v. Bruce Law, (7th Cir. May 10, 2018).

Manley was a member of a high school district when she got into a verbal altercation with a high school student who was passing out leaflets supporting Manley's political opponents outside a high school play. Manley claimed the activity violated school board policy. The student subsequently accused Manley of bullying, and a public outcry led to the school district initiating an investigation into Manley's behavior. Manley filed suit against the school district alleging that the investigation violated her due process rights. The district court dismissed the case, and Manley appealed to the Seventh Circuit.

The Seventh Circuit first noted that the Constitution "does not guarantee good feelings or regulate manners in political disputes" and that "American politics is not for the thin-skinned, even, or perhaps especially, at the local level." With that introductory backdrop, the Court found no violation of Manley's due process rights when the district investigated her actions at the school play. The Court held that Illinois does not create a constitutional right to "emotional well-being" or any right to be free from investigations such as the one the district conducted about Manley. In short, the Court found no constitutionally protected interest at play in this case, and upheld the dismissal of Manley's claims against the school district.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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