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Doe v. Enfield Board of Education

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

February 8, 2019

EMILY DOE, by and through her PARENTS and NEXT FRIENDS, JANE and JOHN DOE, Plaintiff,
v.
ENFIELD BOARD OF EDUCATION, JEFFREY SCHUMANN, CONNEL CLARK, ANDREW LONGEY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION RE: DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS AMENDED COMPLAINT (ECF NO. 31)

          Kari A. Dooley, United States District Judge

         Statement of the Case

         This action arises out of an assault on the minor Plaintiff at Enfield High School. The assault occurred during the school day and was perpetrated by a fellow student. The Plaintiff, by and through her parents and next friends, Jane and John Doe, brought this action against the Enfield Board of Education, Superintendent Jeffrey Schumann, Principal Andrew Longey and Vice Principal Connel Clark. The individual Defendants are sued in both their individual and official capacities. The Plaintiff brings five claims against the Defendants, though only two of those claims are implicated in the instant Motion to Dismiss - the Fourteenth Amendment Substantive Due Process claims set forth in Counts One and Two. Previously, the Court (Hall, J.), [1] dismissed these claims pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), finding that the allegations did not meet the rigorous criteria for establishing a substantive due process claim. (ECF No. 25, Ruling Re: Motion to Dismiss (“Ruling”) at 19, 23.) The Court permitted the Plaintiff to replead, however, if she believed that there existed sufficient facts to state a plausible Fourteenth Amendment claim. (Id.) The Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on July 11, 2018. (ECF No. 29.) On August 9, 2018, the Defendants renewed their motion to dismiss on the grounds that the Amended Complaint does not cure the deficiencies identified by the Court in dismissing the original Complaint and because the Plaintiff has not set forth sufficient facts to plausibly state a Fourteenth Amendment Substantive Due Process claim under these circumstances. (ECF No. 31.) The Court heard oral argument on January 24, 2019. For the reasons that follow, the renewed motion to dismiss is GRANTED.

         Facts

          The Court sets forth below the facts alleged at the time the Court dismissed the original claims. They are taken directly from the Court's prior ruling.[2]

At the time of the events that are the subject of the Complaint, Emily Doe was a 14-year-old student at Enfield High School. See Compl. at ¶ 9. She had special education needs due to her mental disabilities, including a diagnosis or history of Attention Deficit Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Mixed Expressive and Receptive Language Disorder. See Compl. at ¶ 10. Student A was another student at Enfield High School, who was committed to the Department of Children and Families (“DCF”) and who the Complaint alleges had a history of aggressive behavior and a propensity for sexual violence about which the defendants knew or should have known. See id. at ¶¶ 13-14.
On November 11, 2015, Student A called Doe at home and told her that he wanted to take her virginity. See id. at ¶ 17. He asked her if he could do it the next day, and Doe said no. See id. The next day at school, in a public location that was observed or observable by the defendants, Student A told Doe to follow him. See id. at ¶ 19. Although she did not want to, Doe followed him, and he led her to a hallway in the school's basement that was undergoing construction. See id. at ¶ 23.
The Complaint alleges that the defendants and their agents failed to block access to the area under construction or otherwise ensure that the hallway did not become a dangerous location that could be used by students for acts of misconduct. See id. at ¶ 21. The Complaint further alleges that the defendants and their agents observed or should have observed that Student A brought Doe to an unsafe location where she was not scheduled to be at that time. See id. at ¶ 23.
Student A then dragged Doe into the boys' bathroom and raped her in one of the stalls. See id. at ¶¶ 24-25. The Complaint alleges that Vice Principal Clark was or should have been in the proximity where this occurred but failed to timely respond. See id. at ¶¶ 25-26. Vice Principal Clark opened the door to the bathroom after the assault had occurred and asked who was in the boys' bathroom. See id. at ¶¶ 28-29. Doe wanted to yell out but felt threatened by Student A not to tell Vice Principal Clark what was happening. See id. at ¶ 29. Doe exited the stall and, when Vice Principal Clark asked why she was there, she answered that she had to use the bathroom and must have walked into the wrong one. See id. at ¶¶ 30-31. Vice Principal Clark then sent her back to class. See id. at ¶ 31.
Doe told two friends what had happened when she returned to class, and she was called to Principal Longey's office. See id. at ¶¶ 32-33. She told Vice Principal Clark and Principal Longey about the sexual assault. See id. at ¶ 33. Administrators then contacted the police, and Doe was brought by her mother to Connecticut Children's Medical Center for sexual assault evaluation. See id. at ¶ 34. The construction area in the basement was closed off from student access starting November 24, 2015. See id. at ¶ 35.
A report was filed anonymously with DCF, alleging inadequate supervision at the school. See id. at ¶ 36. DCF conducted an investigation, but closed the matter without findings of neglect, stating that Principal Longey and Vice Principal Clark addressed the situation swiftly after the incident. See id. at ¶ 38. The Complaint alleges, however, that DCF did not conduct a thorough investigation. See id. The Complaint further alleges that Doe suffered severe emotional distress as a result of the incident. See id.

(Ruling at 2 - 4.)

         In the Amended Complaint, the Plaintiff includes the following additional allegations regarding Emily Doe, Student A, and the conduct of the Defendants. As to Emily Doe, the Plaintiff alleges that at the time of the assault her functional age was approximately 11.2 years and her IQ was 80. With respect to Student A, the Plaintiff alleges, because he was “not a resident of Enfield, he was not entitled to attend Enfield Public Schools.” The Plaintiff alleges that “Student A had a history of drug use and of dealing drugs, as well as a history of arrests for criminal conduct.” As to the Defendants, the Plaintiff alleges that the Board “knowingly permitted Student A to attend Enfield High School.” The Plaintiff further alleges that the Defendants allowed Student A to “remain in a general education setting, despite prior assaults and other criminal misconduct, without any restrictions or increased supervision.” The Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants “affirmatively removed protections required under Board and school policies, such as supervision of the school hallways and working security cameras, that were put in place to protect students from danger, including Student A's propensity for misconduct.” The Plaintiff alleges that “[a]t the time of the attack, the Defendants had disabled the security cameras looking over the hallway outside the entrance to the aforementioned boys' bathroom.” Finally, as to Clark specifically, the Plaintiff alleges that “[t]he area where Student A dragged Emily Doe into the boys' bathroom was part of Defendant Connel Clark's assigned hall duty area”; that Clark “had willfully abandoned the area by the boys' bathroom, and/or willfully ignored signs that Student A was bringing Emily to the isolated location”; that Clark, at the time of the attack, entered, exited, and then reentered the boys' bathroom, “observ[ing] the two students in the same stall” and “ask[ing] why Emily was in the boys' bathroom in a manner that suggested that she had engaged in misconduct”; and that Clark “failed to assess Emily's safety, and instead suggested she was to blame for being in the bathroom, despite that he knew or should have known that Student A had a history of misconduct, and despite that he knew or should have known that Emily was a vulnerable student.” The Plaintiff alleges that “Clark created a danger in which Student A isolated the plaintiff and raped her.” The Plaintiff further alleges that Clark subsequently “made contradictory statements about what he saw when in the boys' bathroom that morning.”

         Discussion

         The Court does not reiterate the well-established standard for reviewing pleadings under Rule 8(a) as discussed in Ashcroft v. Iqbal,5556 U.S. 662 (2009) and its progeny. Neither, with respect to the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process claim, does the Court reinvent the proverbial wheel. Judge Hall's decision thoroughly and accurately set forth the ...


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