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W.B. v. Wilson County Board of Education

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

May 22, 2017

W.B. and R.B. Plaintiffs,
v.
WILSON COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION, STANLEY MOSS, and DONNA WRIGHT, Defendants.

          Jeffery S. Frensley Magistrate Judge.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION [8]

          LAURIE J. MICHELSON DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Almost three years ago, W.B., who had then just finished the sixth grade, was adjudicated delinquent for sexual assault. As a result, Dr. Donna Wright (the Director of Schools for Wilson County) decided that W.B. would not be able to attend a Wilson County school during the 2014-15 school year. That position later changed, with W.B. being offered the alternative of participating in the Tennessee Virtual On-Line School (TVOLS). R.B., W.B.'s father, instead elected homeschooling for W.B for the 2014-15 school year. The following year, R.B. inquired about W.B. attending a brick-and-mortar school, but Wright decided that W.B. would have to attend TVOLS. R.B. enrolled W.B. in TVOLS for the 2015-16 school year, but W.B. did not perform well. The next year, Wright again decided that W.B. could not attend a brick-and-mortar school in Wilson County. R.B., concerned about W.B.'s lack of social interaction while attending TVOLS, elected to move to a neighboring county. There, W.B. attended a brick-and-mortar school during the 2016-17 school year. But living in the neighboring county presents challenges for R.B. and W.B. and they intend to move back to Wilson County. It appears that before they do, R.B. and W.B. want assurances that W.B. will be able to attend a brick-and-mortar school. (See R. 1, PID 6.) For that and other reasons, R.B. and W.B. have sued Wright, Stanley Moss, and the Wilson County Board of Education.

         Now awaiting decision is Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction. (R. 8.) They ask this Court to enjoin Defendants from assigning W.B. to TVOLS once he enrolls in Wilson County schools. For the reasons that follow, the Court finds this request to be premature. The Court will thus deny-without prejudice-Plaintiffs' motion.

         I.

         A.

         In February 2014, W.B. and his father, R.B., moved to Wilson County, Tennessee from Texas. (See R. 9, PID 35.) W.B. completed that school year, which was the sixth grade for W.B., at a traditional public school in Wilson County. That summer, however, W.B. was adjudicated delinquent in Texas for aggravated sexual assault and given 24 months' probation and ordered to attend sex-offender treatment. (R. 11, PID 49; R. 13, PID 79.)

         In July 2014, a Texas district attorney informed Dr. Donna Wright, the Director of Schools for Wilson County, of W.B.'s delinquency. As the Director of Schools, Wright was (and still is) “the ultimate decision maker with respect to the enrollment, assignment and placement of W.B. in the Wilson County school system.” (R. 13, PID 80.) Wright, perhaps with input from Stanley Moss, the Attendance Director for the Wilson County School Board, decided that W.B. would not be able to attend school in Wilson County. (See R. 11, PID 51.)

         W.B.'s father, R.B., then contacted Elizabeth Taylor, the General Counsel for the State of Tennessee Department of Education. Taylor in turn contacted Wright, informing Wright that under Tennessee law, a meeting must be held to develop an enrollment plan for a child adjudicated delinquent. (R. 11, PID 57.)

         In November 2014, a meeting took place with R.B., Taylor, Wright, Moss, and others. (See R. 11, PID 60-61.) At the meeting, the Wilson County personnel apparently took the position that the only placement option for W.B. would be the Tennessee Virtual On-Line School. (See R. 9, PID 37.)

         According to Wright, “TVOLS is a unique virtual online classroom with an on-site computer lab and in-person teaching assistance, which was developed by the School Board in 2006. TVOLS is fully accredited and staffed by State certified and licensed teachers, and is used by Wilson County students as well as students from across the State of Tennessee.” (R. 13, PID 80.)

         Although it came after the meeting, a mental-health counselor who had been seeing W.B. wrote a letter to the Wilson County School Board and Wright. (R. 11, PID 62.) The letter stated that, in the counselor's “clinical opinion, ” W.B. was “at a very low risk for any similar behaviors related to his adjudication.” (R. 11, PID 62.) Apparently, this letter did not alter Wright's decision.

         R.B. ultimately decided not to enroll W.B. in TVOLS for the 2014-15 school year. W.B. was instead ...


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