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Doe v. Jackson Madison County Board of Education

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division

June 7, 2018

JANE DOE, a student, by and through her parent and guardian, MARY DOE, Plaintiff,
v.
JACKSON MADISON COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION, Defendant.

          ORDER PARTIALLY GRANTING AND PARTIALLY DENYING DEFENDANT'S PARTIAL MOTION TO DISMISS

          S. THOMAS ANDERSON, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Jane Doe, a special education student, by and through her parent and guardian Mary Doe, has filed this action against Defendant Jackson Madison County Board of Education pursuant to Title IX, 20 U.S.C. § 1681; the Fourteenth Amendment through 42 U.S.C. § 1983; § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794; Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12132; and Tennessee's Governmental Tort Liability Act (“GTLA”), Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-20-205. Defendant has moved to dismiss Plaintiff's claim brought under § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act claim, the ADA claim, and the GTLA claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (ECF No. 18.) Plaintiff has filed a response to the motion (ECF No. 19), and Defendant has filed a reply to the response. (ECF No. 20.) For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is PARTIALLY GRANTED and PARTIALLY DENIED.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court must treat all of the well-pleaded allegations of the pleadings as true and construe all of the allegations in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974); Saylor v. Parker Seal Co., 975 F.2d 252, 254 (6th Cir. 1992). Legal conclusions and unwarranted factual inferences, however, need not be accepted as true. Morgan v. Church's Fried Chicken, 829 F.2d 10, 12 (6th Cir. 1987) (citing Westlake v. Lucas, 537 F.2d 857, 858 (6th Cir. 1976); Davis H. Elliot Co. v. Caribbean Utilities Co., 513 F.2d 1176, 1182 (6th Cir. 1975); and Blackburn v. Fisk Univ., 443 F.2d 121, 124 (6th Cir. 1971)). “To avoid dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain either direct or inferential allegations with respect to all the material elements of the claim.” Wittstock v. Mark A. Van Sile, Inc., 330 F.3d 899, 902 (6th Cir. 2003).

         A complaint need only contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Although this standard does not require “detailed factual allegations, ” it does require more than “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)); see also Reilly v. Vadlamudi, 680 F.3d 617, 622 (6th Cir. 2012) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). In order to survive a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must allege facts that, if accepted as true, are sufficient “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level” and to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Jane Doe, a nineteen-year-old special education student, through Mary Doe, her mother, alleges that on February 9, 2017, she was sexually assaulted by an eighteen-year-old special education student, Charlie Smith, during their Social Based Skills (“SBS”) class at North Side High School. North Side High School is a school within the Jackson Madison County School System. The alleged assault occurred while the classroom was being supervised, but the teacher in charge was occupied with another student in the SBS classroom.

         The complaint further alleges that Jane Doe did not report the assault to school officials but, instead, waited until that evening to inform Mary Doe of the incident. Mary Doe reported the incident to school personnel and notified the police on that same day. The next morning, Mary Doe went to North Side High School. However, because she was accompanied by two attorneys, school personnel would not discuss the alleged incident.

         Following the incident, Mary Doe kept Jane Doe home from school, where she remained for the rest of the school year. On April 4, 2017, Defendant conducted an Individualized Education Program (“IEP”) meeting for Jane Doe, wherein it was recommended that Jane Doe attend North Side High School's “Transition Academy.” However, Mary Doe continued to keep Jane Doe at home because Defendant could not assure her that Jane Doe would not come in contact with Charlie Smith. According to the complaint, Plaintiff is not aware of the level of any investigation into the incident taken by Defendant, and Plaintiff has no knowledge of any disciplinary action taken against Charlie Smith, other than a suspension that he received in February 2017.

         ANALYSIS

         Claims Under the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA

         Defendant first contends that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim under Title II of the ADA and § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Title II of the ADA provides that “no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity.” 42 U.S.C. § 12132. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act likewise provides that “[n]o otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States…shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” 29 U.S.C. § 794(a). Thus, to state a claim under the ADA or § 504, a plaintiff must show that she is (1) disabled under the statute, (2) “otherwise qualified” for participation in the program, and (3) being excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination under the program by reason of her disability. See S.S. v. E. Ky. Univ., 532 F.3d 445, 453 (6th Cir. 2008) (citing Maddox v. Univ. of Tenn., 62 F.3d 843, 846 (6th Cir. 1995)).[1]

         Defendant argues that Plaintiff has failed to allege that she was excluded from a program because of her disability in that the complaint states that she was sexually assaulted by Charlie Smith because of her gender. For example, the amended complaint alleges that Jane Doe, “on the basis of her sex, was excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, and was subjected to discrimination in JMC's education program…, ” and Charlie Smith admitted to the alleged sexual assault, explaining that Jane Doe “was his girlfriend.” (ECF 17, ¶¶ 36, 67, 72.)

         Plaintiff agrees that she is required to provide sufficiently detailed facts to establish, inter alia, that the harassment which led to her alleged exclusion was based on her disability but argues that she has, in fact, done so. In support of her ...


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