United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville Division
JOHN DOE #1, by and through his next friend, SUSAN LEE, and JOHN DOE #2, by and through his next friend, BILLY KING, Plaintiffs,
SEVIER COUNTY, TENNESSEE, SEVIER COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION, and Superintendent DR. JACK PARTON in his official capacity, Defendants.
JORDAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment [doc. 58], Defendants' Brief in Support
of the Motion [doc. 59], Plaintiffs' Response [doc. 67],
and Defendants' Reply [doc. 68]. For the reasons herein,
the Court will grant the motion in part and deny the motion
John Doe #1 and John Doe #2 (“John Does”) are
minors and former students at Sevier County High School in
Sevierville, Tennessee, where they were members of the
school's basketball team. [Lee Aff., doc. 12-1,
¶¶ 2-3; King Aff, doc. 12-2, ¶¶ 2-3].
Last year, while John Does were in their junior year, they
were arrested, jailed, and charged with aggravated rape. [Lee
Aff. ¶¶ 2-3; King Aff. ¶¶ 2-3].
“[A]s a condition of bond, ” they “[were]
restrained from attending high school at Sevier County High
School.” [Lee Aff. ¶ 3; King Aff. ¶ 3]. John
Does and the District Attorney's Office, however, reached
an eventual settlement agreement in the Sevier County
Juvenile Court, which announced the terms of the agreement in
open court and did not memorialize the specific terms of the
agreement in a written order. [First Hr'g Tr., doc. 47,
at 8:18-25, 9:1- 23; Second Hr'g Tr., doc. 69, at
18:8-19; see Juvenile Records, doc. 9-1, at 1-7].
then, John Does have had the charges expunged from their
juvenile records, [Chief Deputy Clerk Letter No. 1, doc. 1-5,
at 1; Chief Deputy Clerk Letter No. 2, doc. 1-6, at 1],
attempted to re-enroll in Sevier County High School on three
separate occasions, [Second Hr'g Tr. at 8:23-25, 9:1-5].
The Sevier County School Board (“School Board”),
however, denied them the opportunity to re-enroll in Sevier
County High School, based on a concern that their settlement
agreement or the Sevier County Juvenile Court had barred them
from returning to that specific school. [Id.]. The
School Board instead offered them enrollment in any one of
their four other high schools in Sevier County. [Id.
at 61:19-25; 62:1-5].
Does then brought this action against Sevier County, the
School Board, and Superintendent Dr. Jack Parton
(“Defendants”), alleging they violated 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 by abridging their rights under the First
Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendments of the United States
Constitution. [Compl., doc. 1-1, ¶ 18]. John Does also
contemporaneously filed a motion for a preliminary injunction
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65, alleging that they
“have invested themselves tremendously in the athletic
program at Sevier County High School, ” that they are
“considered to [be] physically gifted, highly talented
within their skill set for their particular sport, ”
and that “transferring to any other school will cause
irreparable harm.” [Compl. ¶¶ 9-10;
see Mot. Preliminary Inj., doc. 4, at 1].
Specifically, they claim that “opportunities that were
available to them for scholarships and to compete
collegiately have been damaged and/or are rapidly
diminishing” because they have been unable to attend
Sevier County High School and participate in its basketball
program. [Compl. ¶ 20].
days of John Does' filing of this action, the School
Board proceeded to the Sevier County Juvenile Court, which,
at the School Board's request, memorialized the terms of
John Does' settlement agreements in written Orders.
[See Juvenile Records at 1- 7]. The School Board has
since filed these Orders with this Court, and they state:
Pursuant to an agreement announced in Court on a separate
case, and a petition to this Court for entry of an Order
memorializing the agreement, the following is ORDERED that:
1. That the respondent[s] . . . shall have no contact,
directly or indirectly, with [the victim], a minor whose
identity is known to the parties, the Court and the Sevier
County School System.
2. No contact means respondent[s] shall not appear at any
location where [they] know [the victim] will be present.
3. Should inadvertent contact occur, the burden is on the
respondent[s] to cease the contact.
4. Respondent[s] shall not re-enroll in Sevier County High
[Id. at 3-4, 6-7].
after John Does brought this action, this Court scheduled an
evidentiary hearing, at which the parties presented evidence
and argument as to the propriety of a preliminary injunction.
[Order, doc. 29, at 1; First Hr'g Tr. at 1-59]. A few
weeks later, the Court scheduled a second evidentiary
hearing, to accommodate John Does' request to present
additional evidence for an injunction. [Second Order, doc.
54, at 1]. Before the hearing could take place, however,
Defendants filed for summary judgment, attacking the merits
of John Does' case on evidentiary and legal grounds. The
Court reserved ruling on their request for summary judgment,
choosing to resolve the immediate issue before it- the need
for a preliminary injunction-before reaching the merits of
second hearing went on as scheduled. During the hearing, the
Court received testimony from several witnesses, including
John Doe #1; John Doe #2; John Doe #1's father; John Doe
#2's father; Assistant District Attorney Rolfe A.
Straussfogel; Jackie Renee Brown, who is John Does'
homebound instructor; and Dr. Debra Ann Cline (“Dr.
Cline”), who is the assistant superintendent and
director of curriculum and instruction for the Sevier County
School System. Dr. Cline stated that the Sevier County School
System has a policy of “open enrollment, ” which
she described in the following way: “[I]f [a parent] is
a resident of [Sevier] [C]ounty and his or her child resides
in the home with that parent . . . he or she can select [any
one of the five] school[s] in [Sevier County].”
[Id. at 61:1-5]. After carefully ...