United States District Court, D. Minnesota
In the Matter of John Doe, by and through his parents, James Doe and Jane Doe, Plaintiff,
Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, Defendant.
Margaret O'Sullivan Kane, Esq., Kane Education Law, LLC,
counsel for Plaintiff.
Christian R. Shafer, Esq., and Timothy A. Sullivan, Esq.,
Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, PA, counsel for Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
DONOVAN W. FRANK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss brought by
Defendant Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Arts
(“SPCPA”). (Doc. No. 16.) For the reasons set
forth below, the Court grants the motion.
is a public charter school. (Doc. No. 1, Compl. ¶¶
7-8.) Through its own policies, SPCPA prohibits harassment or
violence on the basis of sex. (Compl. ¶ 30; Pl's Ex.
3 at 25.) SPCPA policy imposes a 5-day suspension
for a first offense and expulsion for a second offense with
respect to the following behavior:
Participating in or conspiring with others to engage in acts
that injure, degrade, intimidate or disgrace other
individuals, including indecent exposure, displaying
pornography and words or actions that negatively impact and
[sic] individual or group based on their racial, cultural or
religious background, their sex, their sexual orientation,
any disabilities, creed, national origin, marital status,
status with regard to public assistance or age.
relevant times, Plaintiff John Doe, by and through his
parents, James Doe and Jane Doe (“Plaintiff”),
was a student enrolled at SPCPA. (Compl. ¶¶ 4, 6.)
On or before October 9, 2017, three female students informed
Dean Ilah Raleigh that Plaintiff had engaged in behavior that
included: “[I]nappropriate touch: sitting too close,
touching without permission, grabbing a student's leg
near the crotch, licking a student's hand, grabbing a
student from behind and groping.” (Pl's Ex. 8
(Notice of Suspension).) According to the Notice of
Suspension, the students verbally and non-verbally indicated
that they wanted Plaintiff to stop, and in each case,
Plaintiff allegedly escalated the behavior. (Id.)
Raleigh interviewed Plaintiff in her office. (Pl's Ex. 7
(Dean Raleigh Notes).) Dean Raleigh shared the details of the
students' statements regarding Plaintiff's alleged
inappropriate behavior with Plaintiff. (Id.)
Specifically, Dean Raleigh read portions of the students'
written reports and asked for Plaintiff's response.
(Id.) Plaintiff initially denied the allegations.
(Compl. ¶ 12.) Dean Raleigh noted that Plaintiff became
upset and eventually acknowledged that he had contact with
several girls, but that Plaintiff maintained that he was not
aware that his behavior had bothered the students and that he
thought he and the other students had been flirting. (Dean
Raleigh Notes.) According to Dean Raleigh, Plaintiff admitted
to “touching multiple female students” but denied
other aspects of the students' allegations.
(Id.) Dean Raleigh called Plaintiff's parents
and told them Plaintiff was being disciplined for sexual
harassment and that he had been suspended. (Compl. ¶
15.) While Plaintiff was waiting for his parents to arrive,
he spoke with his English teacher, Emily Johnson. (Compl.
¶ 14.) According to Johnson, Plaintiff stated that some
students had accused him of sexual harassment and that he had
been suspended. (Pl's Ex. 1.) According to Johnson,
Plaintiff denied some of the allegations, but admitted to
others and that he engaged in conduct that “made other
students feel uncomfortable.” (Id.)
on October 9, 2017, Dean Raleigh and Principal Delaney met
with Plaintiff and his parents. (Compl. ¶ 15.) Dean
Raleigh told Plaintiff's parents that Plaintiff had
admitted to the conduct in question, but that she
“subsequently learned from Plaintiff that he denied the
allegations.” (Id. ¶ 17.) Principal
Delaney informed Plaintiff's parents that Plaintiff would
be suspended for three days. (Id. ¶ 15.) Also
on October 9, 2017, Dean Raleigh sent Plaintiff's parents
a written notice of the suspension, which included a factual
basis for the suspension, plan for readmission, alternative
educational services available during the suspension, and a
copy of the Minnesota Pupil Fair Dismissal Act. (Compl.
¶ 29; Notice of Suspension.) Plaintiff was allowed to
return to school on October 12, 2017. (Id.)
Plaintiff's parents allege that they received the notice
on October 12, 2017. (Id.) Plaintiff's parents
kept him home from school until October 16, 2017. (Compl.
¶¶ 24, 27.) On that date, SPCPA met with Plaintiff
and his parents to discuss his readmission. (Id.
¶¶ 24-26.) Plaintiff “was permitted to join
his next class at the end of the meeting” on October
16, 2017. (Id. ¶ 26.)
denies that he engaged in inappropriate behavior. Plaintiff
also asserts that he was not accorded minimal due process
prior to his suspension and that his suspension
“affirmed by acquiescence” the stigmatizing
allegations of sexual harassment. Plaintiff maintains that he
had the right to prior written notice of the allegations and
an opportunity to be heard and understand the testimony that
might be brought against him before being suspended.
Plaintiff further asserts that after he was suspended,
students from SPCPA took to social media repeating the
allegations against him, writing open letters to him, and
even threatening physical assault. (Compl. ¶ 21.) In
addition, Plaintiff asserts that the students at SPCPA
protested Plaintiff's return to school, and when he did
return, he was subjected to isolation and scorn and was
stigmatized and ostracized. (Id.) On October 25,
2017, Plaintiff was confronted by both student and adult
protesters in front of the school, and Plaintiff asserts that
no one from SPCPA contacted Plaintiff or his parents
regarding the protests or assisted him while at school.
(Id. ¶ 33.)
filed the present action, asserting three causes of action:
(1) Education and Fourteenth Amendment Due Process, 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983; (2) Liberty Interest in Reputation and
Fourteenth Amendment Due Process, 42 U.S.C. § 1983; and
(3) Invasion of Privacy/Intrusion on Seclusion. (Compl.)
Plaintiff previously moved for a preliminary injunction.
(Doc. No. 28.) ...