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M.M. v. Indianapolis Public Schools

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

May 22, 2015

M.M., by Next Friend, LATANYA ASHMORE, Plaintiff,
v.
INDIANAPOLIS PUBLIC SCHOOLS, Defendant.

ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND TO RELINQUISH JURISDICTION OVER THE STATE LAW CLAIM

DEBRA McVICKER LYNCH, Magisrate Judge.

Defendant Indianapolis Public Schools ("IPS") has moved for summary judgment on the plaintiff's federal law claims, which are (1) a claim under 28 U.S.C. § 1983 based on a violation of due process under the Fourteenth Amendment and (2) a claim under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. IPS also asks the court to relinquish supplemental jurisdiction over the plaintiff's state law negligence claim. Because the undisputed facts and governing law entitle IPS to judgment as a matter of law on the federal claims and because it is appropriate no longer to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law negligence claim under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3), the court GRANTS the defendant's motion.

The parties consented to this magistrate judge conducting all proceedings and ordering the entry of judgment in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 73.

Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate when "there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of informing the district court of the basis for its motion and of identifying the evidence it believes demonstrates the absence of a genuine dispute as to a material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The nonmovant may not rest on her pleadings, but must designate "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Id. at 324. The plaintiff did not file a response to IPS's summary judgment motion. Therefore, under Local Rule 56-1(f), all of IPS's factual assertions supported by admissible evidence are deemed true.

Analysis

A. The material facts are undisputed.

IPS has submitted admissible evidence of the following facts, which are undisputed for purposes of its summary judgment motion.

Plaintiff M.M., a female student who was in the sixth grade, was sexually assaulted by three male sixth-grade fellow students in a girls' bathroom during the school day on September 20, 2012, at IPS School 103. ( See Report to Child Protective Services, Dkt. 28, at p. 36). The four children were assigned to the same classroom. (Deposition of M.M., Dkt. 28, Trans. at p. 8).[1] Before the assault on September 20, 2012, IPS was not aware of any hostility between the boys and M.M. (IPS's answer to interrogatory 7, Dkt. 28 at p. 28). M.M. testified that none of them had been a person she worried about or wanted to avoid (M.M. Trans. at p. 9), and her mother knew of no problems M.M. had had with these boys. (Ashmore Trans. at p. 12).

On September 20, 2012, the three sixth-grade boys (M.J., E.M., and H.E.) devised a plan to get passes from teachers to leave their classroom at about the same time. (M.J. Trans. at pp. 12-13). One boy had a pass to leave with a tutoring instructor for work in another classroom and then obtained permission from that teacher to use the bathroom. ( Id. at pp. 13-14). The other two obtained passes from their classroom teacher to go to the bathroom. ( Id. at 12-14). Once in the school hallway, the boys wandered from their second floor classroom to the first floor for a couple minutes, and then ran back up to the second floor when they heard a teacher coming their way. ( Id. at 16). In the meantime, the plaintiff had been given permission to leave the classroom to see the school nurse. (M.M. Trans. at p. 13). On her way back from the nurse, she received permission from a teacher to use the restroom. ( Id. at p. 14).

According to M.M., [2] after opening the stall door in the restroom to leave the stall, the three boys were standing there in the girls' restroom. ( Id. at pp. 16 and 20). The boys confronted her, pushed her to the floor inside the stall, and held her down. ( Id. at pp. 17 and 21). At least one of them pulled off her pants and touched her genital area, and one of them took off her shirt and fondled her chest. ( Id. at 17 and 29-31). M.M. cried and yelled to be left alone. Another student who was outside the restroom and apparently heard commotion in the restroom[3] yelled that a teacher was coming. ( Id. at pp. 17 and 22-23). The boys moved to another spot in the restroom. M.M. left the restroom ( id. at p. 18) and a teacher, who had been fetched by a different student, arrived. ( Id. at pp. 18 and 23). M.M. and the teacher went into a classroom and M.M. "explained everything." The teacher said she was going to call the police. ( Id. at pp. 18, 24, and 39). Police officers arrived at the school and talked to M.M. about what had happened. ( Id. at p. 40). The parents of M.M. and the three boys were called and the police interviewed the three boys in the presence of their parents. ( See investigative report, Dkt. 28, at pp. 33-35).

The three boys were immediately suspended from school for six days pending the initiation of an expulsion proceeding and further police investigation. ( Id., Dkt. 28 at p. 35). The boys never returned to School 103 from their suspensions because they were expelled for the remainder of the school year. ( See Principal's Report of Title IX Investigation, Dkt. 28, at p. 45). Plaintiff M.M. did not wish to continue attending School 103 and, after spending two or three weeks at home, she transferred to a different IPS school, to which IPS arranged her bus transportation. (Ashmore Trans. at pp. 21-22).

The day after the assault, IPS made a formal report to Indiana's Department of Child Protective Services. ( See report, Dkt. 28 at p. 36). Also the next day, the school social worker conducted counseling and education sessions with students in the 4th, 5th, and 6th grades. (Social Worker Report, Dkt. 28, at p. 37). Students were told not to gossip about the incident and were encouraged to attend one-on-one counseling sessions to express concerns or worries. ( Id. ...


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