December 24, 2010

School officials were entitled to qualified immunity from former teacher’s claim of biased investigation into alleged sexual abuse of student

School officials were entitled to qualified immunity from former teacher’s claim of biased investigation into alleged sexual abuse of student
Source: Adjunct Law Prof Blog; http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/adjunctprofs/
Reproduced with permission. Copyright © 2010, Mitchell H. Rubinstein, Esq., Adjunct Professor of Law, St. Johns Law School and New York Law School, All rights reserved.

Purvis v. Oest, ___F.3d____(7th Cir. Aug. 2, 2010), is an interesting case.

The Seventh Circuit held that three school officials who conducted an investigation into allegations that a teacher had sexually abused one of her students were entitled to qualified immunity from the former teacher’s suit that the biased nature of the investigation corrupted the subsequent criminal investigation in violation of her due process rights.

The court also ruled that the chief of police was entitled to qualified immunity from the teacher’s claim of false arrest because he had probable cause to make the arrest.

The teacher had resigned from her employment in exchange for a cash settlement. In finding that the individual defendants were entitled to qualified immunity, the court applied the two-step immunity test:

(1) whether the plaintiff showed a that the defendant had violated a constitutional right; and

(2) whether that right was clearly established at the time the violation occurred.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

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