United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Harrison Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY L. BROOKS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
pending before the Court are a Motion for Partial Dismissal
(Doc. 19) and Brief in Support (Doc. 20), filed by Defendant
Mountain Home School District ("MHSD"); a Response
to the Motion (Doc. 22) and Brief in Support (Doc. 23), filed
by Plaintiffs James, Kristi, and Patrick Gentry; and
MHSD's Reply (Doc. 26). For the reasons set forth herein,
the Motion for Partial Dismissal is GRANTED IN PART AND
DENIED IN PART.
time of the events in the Amended Complaint (Doc. 18),
Plaintiff Patrick Gentry was a student at Mountain Home High
School with a 3.5 grade point average. He intended to attend
college immediately after graduation in May of 2014. On
January 20, 2014, Patrick and a female student named Jamie
Voelkenks were seated in the auditorium, waiting for a school
program to begin, when they began discussing a teacher who
had given them each a "B" in his class. The two
students thought they had deserved "A" grades. At
some point, another student named Sarah Ross sat beside
Patrick and Jamie and joined in their conversation about the
teacher. Sarah suggested that they report the
"unfair" teacher to the office and write the letter
"B" in chalk on the teacher's car; Jamie
suggested-with a chuckle-that they burn down the
teacher's house; and Patrick jokingly suggested that they
pour pigs' blood over the teacher's female daughter,
just as in a scene from the horror movie Carrie.
in the auditorium must have overheard the students'
comments and reported them to school officials. On January
22, 2014, Patrick was called to the office and interrogated
by a Mountain Home police officer concerning the statements
he had made in the auditorium about the teacher.
Patrick's mother, Kristi, arrived at school and was
advised that Patrick would be suspended for ten days, would
be required to complete ten days of community service, and
only after those requirements were completed would he be
permitted to return to school. According to Patrick, he
completed his community service hours and was told that a
committee would need to review the matter and decide what
would happen next. On February 7, 2014, Patrick and his
parents learned that the review committee had decided that
Patrick would not be allowed to return to the high school but
would instead be transferred to the Guy Berry Alternative
Learning Environment ("ALE"), a separate
educational facility with its own courses, grades, and
transcripts. Patrick asserts that Jamie's punishment was
less severe than his, in that she was able to return to
Mountain Home High School after performing her community
service hours and finishing her period of suspension, and she
was not forced to enroll at the ALE. Patrick was also not
permitted to attend his high school prom.
parents disagreed with the committee's decision and
refused to sign a form that stated that they agreed to the
District's recommendations. Kristi and James Gentry
requested a meeting with the school Superintendent to discuss
the situation, but their request was denied. They contend
that this refusal to allowthem to appeal the educational
decision involving Patrick violated Patrick's and their
right to due process. Mr. and Mrs. Gentry claim that they
were forced to withdraw Patrick from MHSD and move to another
school district so that Patrick could complete his
pre-college level coursework and graduate on time. This
disrupted his academic performance and extra-curricular
activities he had been participating in at Mountain Home High
School. In addition, the Amended Complaint claims that
Patrick suffered humiliation, ridicule, embarrassment, and
damage to his reputation.
claims for relief arise from alleged violations of 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 and Title IX, as codified at 20 U.S.C.
§§ 1681 -1688. Plaintiffs allege that their
constitutional rights were violated, specifically the right
to liberty and property, the right to due process, and the
right to equal protection under the law. They also claim that
the statements Patrick made about his teacher did not
constitute a true threat of violence and thus should have
been protected by the First Amendment. The Title IX claim is
that Patrick was intentionally discriminated against by MHSD
because of his gender.
has filed a motion to dismiss all claims asserted by
Patrick's parents, Kristin and James Gentry, as they are
not the true parties in interest, lack standing to pursue
claims on Patrick's behalf, and do not state claims for
violations of law on their own behalf. The motion also asks
that Plaintiffs' claim for injunctive relief against MHSD
be stricken as moot, since Patrick has now graduated from
high school and will not be subject to any decision-making by
that entity in the future. Lastly, the motion asserts that
the Title IX and Equal Protection claims should be dismissed
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) because Plaintiffs have failed to
state facts to show MHSD intentionally discriminated against
him due to his gender.
Plaintiffs' response to the motion, they agree that
Kristi and James Gentry's claims should be dismissed
without prejudice. As for the claim for injunctive relief
against MHSD, they agree that Patrick is no longer a high
school student and has now graduated; but they object to
dismissing the request for injunctive relief because they
contend the issue is not yet ripe. Finally, as to the Title
IX and Equal Protection claims, they believe they have stated
enough facts to survive dismissal. Below, the Court will
consider these arguments in turn.
survive a motion to dismiss, a pleading must provide "a
short and plain statement of the claim that the pleader is
entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The purpose
of this requirement is to "give the defendant fair
notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which
it rests." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93
(2007) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007)). The Court must accept as true all factual
allegations set forth in the Complaint by the plaintiff,
drawing all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's
favor. See Ashley Cty., Ark. v. Pfizer, Inc., 552
F.3d 659, 665 (8th Cir. 2009).
the complaint "must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 570). "A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged." Id. "A
pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or
'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action will not do.' Nor does a complaint suffice if it
tenders 'naked assertions' devoid of 'further
factual enhancement."' Id. In other words,
"the pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require
'detailed factual allegations, ' but it demands more
than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me
Dismissal of ...