Cheli v. Taylorville Community School District, No. 20-2033 (7th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
On September 28, 2018, Cheli, a computer system administrative assistant for the District, since 2014, was taken into a meeting with about 25 minutes’ notice. The District’s superintendent and Director of Computer Services terminated Cheli because a female student had alleged that Cheli had sexually harassed her three weeks prior. Cheli denied the allegations. The Board retroactively memorialized Cheli’s termination on October 9, 2018. Cheli never received notice of the Board meeting and did not receive written notice of the charges or the evidence against him but received a notice of termination via certified mail stating that “[t]he basis or grounds for discharge include incompetence.” That notice informed Cheli that he could request the written report. The District did not provide the report upon Cheli’s request.
A collective bargaining agreement governed Cheli’s employment and provides for discipline for reasonable cause. An employee is entitled to a conference, attended by a representative of his choice, and a written explanation for the discipline. The District’s Policy Manual, however, contains a provision titled “Employment At-Will.”
Cheli sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging the defendants violated his procedural due process rights. The Seventh Circuit reversed the dismissal of the suit. The collective bargaining agreement established that Cheli could not be terminated except “for reasonable cause,” which created a protected property interest for which he was entitled to due process