Collinsville Board of Education seeks to dismiss teacher's suit

Steve Gonzalez Apr. 17, 2008, 7:00am

Kreitner Elementary School

Seven members of the Collinsville Board of Education are asking Madison County Circuit Judge David Hylla to dismiss a complaint filed against them by a teacher at Kreitner Elementary School.

The members filed a 5/2-301 motion to dismiss March 31, arguing the process server did not properly serve the complaint or summons.

Karen Eastby filed suit against the Collinsville Board of Education and the seven members on Feb. 20, alleging the school board has failed to meet the terms of a settlement reached in federal court.

Eastby claims that on Nov. 16, 2004, she filed a multi-count complaint against the defendants in federal court alleging violation of free speech, age discrimination, defamation and tortuous interference of a business relationship.

According to Eastby, on Feb. 6, 2006, the parties entered into a settlement agreement in good faith.

She claims the terms of the agreement called for her to dismiss her suit with prejudice in exchange for $25,000, reinstatement to the ISEL reading testing team and corrections to her personnel file.

Eastby claims she dismissed her suit on March 20, 2006, pursuant to the settlement agreement, but alleges the defendants have failed to comply with the terms and obligations under the agreement.

Eastby claims she never would have consented to the dismissal of the federal suit had the board not agreed with the specific terms and conditions contained in the settlement.

Eastby claims that as a result of the alleged breach of settlement agreement, she has sustained damages including loss of payment and other benefits promised under the agreement, loss of income and employment benefits, emotional pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and other damages in excess of $100,000.

According to the motion to dismiss, the school board members allege a process server attempted to serve all of the defendants by leaving the summonses at the Unit Office of Collinsville Community Unit School District.

"The process server did not inquire whether any of the individual defendants were available to be personally served at the Unit Office," the motion states.

They allege that none of the individual defendants were personally served with a copy of the complaint and a summons.

According to the board members, the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure, 735 ILCS 5/2-203 provides that service of process may be made on an individual by either personally serving the individual or by leaving a copy of the summons with an individual of age at their place of abode.

"Because Plaintiff did not properly serve the Complaint and Summons on any of the individual Defendants prior to the expiration of said Summonses, this Court is divested of jurisdiction over the individual persons named as Defendants in this suit, and therefore must dismiss the Complaint against the individuals," the motion states.

The individual members are represented by Christi Flaherty of Collinsville.

Eastby also claims the defendants have intentionally inflicted emotional distress by entering into a pattern of conduct that is "so outrageous" it caused her stress and emotional distress.

She claims the district has taken unwanted disciplinary actions against her and has failed to provide her appropriate resources and educational staffing support, including an appropriate classroom.

According to Eastby, the district has also forced her to move to a non-instructional, office space which is extremely small in comparison to her old classroom which caused her to lose "effective use and ready access to the student computers, visual aids, and a myriad of important or vital instructional tools to benefit the children she serves."

Eastby also claims that she has been denied timely access to student scores and administrative support for student selection which makes it extremely difficult to begin the school year and instruction.

She further alleges that her former classroom now sits empty during the school day. She also claims the district told her that the resources were adequate and they do not need to be any different from those used 35 years ago.

Eastby is seeking actual, liquidated and compensatory damages, reimbursement of court costs and reasonable counsel fees and a declaratory judgment ordering the district to comply with the terms of the settlement, all in excess of $150,000 in damages.

She is represented by Greg Roosevelt of the Roosevelt Law Office in Edwardsville.

Hylla has set a hearing on the motion to dismiss at 9:30 a.m. on May 23.

More News