United States District Court, D. Minnesota
B.L., by and through his Parent and Natural Guardian, Carole Lundell, Plaintiff,
Mahtomedi School District, ISD No. 832, Defendant.
L. Jepsen, Esq., School Law Center, LLC, St. Paul, MN, on
behalf of Plaintiff.
Michael J. Waldspurger, Esq., and Elizabeth J. Vieira, Esq.,
Rupp, Anderson, Squires & Waldspurger, P.A., Minneapolis,
MN, on behalf of Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MONTGOMERY U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the undersigned United States District Judge
for a ruling on Plaintiff B.L.'s Motion for a Temporary
Restraining Order, or in the Alternative, a Preliminary
Injunction [Docket No. 8]. B.L. is a high school student who
was expelled from the Mahtomedi School District (the
“District”) for possessing and displaying an
air-powered BB-gun on school grounds on March 20, 2107.
Larson Decl. [Docket No. 13] ¶ 3; Ex. D. On April 17,
2017, while the expulsion proceeding was in progress, B.L.
sued the District and sought emergency injunctive relief to
terminate the District's expulsion process. See
Am. Compl. [Docket No. 6]. B.L. argues that the District
failed to follow the Pupil Fair Dismissal Act, Minn. Stat.
§ 121A.40, et seq., because he was not provided
with the required alternative educational services. B.L.
seeks an order enjoining the District from continuing to
attempt to expel B.L. and from continuing to exclude B.L.
from attending school. For the reasons set forth below,
B.L.'s Motion is denied.
March 20, 2017, B.L. was suspended for 10 days for possessing
and brandishing a BB-gun on school grounds. Larson Decl. Ex.
B (“Hr'g Exs.”) at Ex. 4. During this period
of suspension, B.L. had access to his school work and many of
his teachers met with him to discuss his coursework. Larson
Decl. Ex. A (“Hr'g Tr.”) at 97. Additionally,
the District assigned B.L. an intervention specialist to
assist him in completing his academics and to help him make
better choices. Id. at 73.
March 27, 2017, the District informed B.L. that he was being
suspended for five additional days pending expulsion.
Hr'g Exs. at Ex. 6. The following day, B.L. received a
Notice of Proposed Expulsion, formally notifying B.L. that
the District proposed expelling B.L. pursuant to the Pupil
Fair Dismissal Act (“PFDA”), and that a hearing
on the matter was scheduled for Monday, April 3, 2017.
Id. at Ex. 7. The hearing date was later moved to
April 12 to accommodate the schedule of B.L.'s attorney.
Larson Decl. Ex. F.
expulsion hearing was held before Hearing Officer Richard
John Miller (“Miller”). Miller heard testimony
from B.L., the school bus driver who observed B.L.
brandishing the BB-gun, a school resource officer and
Washington County deputy sheriff who spoke with B.L. about
the incident, the Mahtomedi High School principal and
assistant principal, and the District superintendent. See
generally Hr'g Tr. On April 17, 2017, Miller
submitted his recommendation to the School
Board. Larson Decl. ¶ 7. The School Board
then met the following day to consider Miller's
recommendation. Id. ¶ 8. After deliberating for
approximately 90 minutes, the School Board adopted a
resolution expelling B.L. from the District for the remainder
of the 2016-17 school year and for the first semester of the
2017-18 school year. Id. ¶ 9; Ex. D.
filed this suit on April 17, 2017, seeking a temporary
restraining order or a preliminary injunction to enjoin the
District's expulsion proceeding. The gravamen of
B.L.'s Amended Complaint [Docket No. 6] is that his
property right to education was impaired by the
District's failure to provide the proper alternative
educational services prior to initiating the expulsion
District argues that this federal court should decline to
interfere with a state proceeding under the abstention
doctrine announced in Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37
(1971). Under Younger, “[w]here vital state
interests are involved, a federal court should abstain
‘unless state law clearly bars the interposition of the
constitutional claims.'” Middlesex Cty. Ethics
Comm. v. Garden State Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423, 432
(1982) (quoting Moore v. Sims, 442 U.S. 415, 426
District presents a persuasive argument for why abstaining
under Younger is appropriate, including that B.L.
has and is able to continue to pursue his rights in the
administrative forum, including seeking judicial ...