United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY ON MOTION TO DISMISS
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE United States District Court
matter is before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss filed
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) by
Defendants Board of Trustees of Indiana University
(“Trustees”) and Indiana University School of
Dentistry (“IUSD”) (collectively,
“Defendants”). (Filing No. 29.) After
being dismissed from IUSD, Plaintiff Catherine Wanko
(“Wanko”) filed an Amended Complaint, alleging
Defendants violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
(“Title VI”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000d-7.
(Filing No. 28.) Defendants move the Court to
dismiss Wanko's Amended Complaint for failure to state a
claim. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS in part
and DENIES in part Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.
following facts are undisputed. Wanko is African-American and
a naturalized United States citizen, originally from the
Republic of Cameroon, Central Africa. In August 2014, s
enrolled as a dental student at IUSD. According to IUSD's
policies and procedures, dental students must achieve a score
of seventy percent (70%) or higher to pass a course. However,
students who score between sixty-five percent (65%) and
sixty-nine point nine percent (69.9%) are granted the
opportunity to bring their grade back to the satisfactory
level of seventy percent (70%). This practice is based on
IUSD's “remediation” policy. Students who
score below sixty-five percent (65%) are not eligible to
remediate a score. All scores earned, including remediated
scores, are used to compute a student's cumulative grade
point average (“GPA”). In order to be promoted to
the next semester and remain in good standing, a student
must: 1) maintain a passing or incomplete grade for each
course the student is enrolled; 2) maintain a minimum
cumulative 2.0 GPA, as well as a semester GPA of 2.0; and 3)
maintain acceptable ethical and professional behavior.
According to IUSD's policies and procedures, a student
may be placed on probation if the student fails to remain in
Wanko's first year of dental school, she received
unsatisfactory scores in two courses-Single Tooth Indirect
Restorations (“STI”) and Removable Prosthodontics
(“RP”). In STI, Wanko scored below a sixty-five
percent (65%), therefore, she was not eligible to remediate
the class. Wanko's RP score met the requirements for
remediation and in the summer of 2015, Wanko successfully
remediated RP by scoring seventy-one percent (71%) on the
course examination. By the end of her first year, Wanko
achieved a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0.
Wanko remediating the RP class and maintaining a 2.0 GPA,
IUSD required that she retake her entire first year
curriculum. After repeating her first year curriculum, Wanko
successfully passed all but one of her courses-STI. Wanko
scored a sixty-five percent (65%) in STI, but IUSD did not
offer her the opportunity to remediate. Instead, the Dental
Student Progress Committee decided to dismiss Wanko from
IUSD. Wanko appealed to the Faculty Counsel Appeals
Committee, as well as to the Dean, who both affirmed the
decision to dismiss her from dental school.
February 6, 2017, Wanko filed an Amended Complaint, alleging
Defendants discriminated against her on the basis of her race
and national origin in violation of Title VI. (Filing No.
28). Wanko specifically argues that Defendants forced
her to retake her entire first year curriculum and dismissed
her from IUSD without offering remediation or probation,
because of her race and national origin. Defendants move to
dismiss Wanko's Amended Complaint for failure to state a
claim. (Filing No. 29).
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) authorizes a defendant to
move to dismiss a complaint that fails to “state a
claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). When deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule
12(b)(6), the court construes the complaint in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff, accepts all factual allegations
as true, and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the
plaintiff. Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074,
1081 (7th Cir. 2008). However, courts “are not obliged
to accept as true legal conclusions or unsupported
conclusions of fact.” Hickey v. O'Bannon,
287 F.3d 656, 658 (7th Cir. 2002).
complaint need not include detailed factual allegations, a
plaintiff has the obligation to provide the factual grounds
supporting his entitlement to relief; and neither bare legal
conclusions nor a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action will suffice in meeting this obligation.
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007). Stated differently, the complaint must include
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Hecker v. Deere &
Co., 556 F.3d 575, 580 (7th Cir. 2009) (citation and
quotation marks omitted). To be facially plausible, the
complaint must allow “the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
move to dismiss Wanko's Amended Complaint for failure to
state a claim under Title VI. Title VI provides: “[n]o
person in the United States shall, on the ground of race,
color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in,
be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination
under any program or activity receiving Federal financial
assistance.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000d.
establish a prima facie case of discrimination under
Title VI, Wanko must demonstrate that she: (1) is a member of
a protected class; (2) met the school's legitimate
educational expectations; (3) suffered an adverse educational
action; and (4) received worse treatment than that of
similarly situated students not in the protected class.
Brewer v. Board of Trustees of the University of
Illinois, 479 F.3d 908, 921 (7th Cir. 2007) (citations
do not dispute that Wanko is a member of a protected class,
or that she suffered an adverse educational action. However,
Defendants contend that Wanko did not perform satisfactorily
at IUSD to meet their legitimate expectations, and there is
no similarly situated student outside of the protected ...