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S.B. v. Seymour Community Schools

Court of Appeals of Indiana

March 26, 2018

S.B., Appellant-Respondent,
v.
Seymour Community Schools, Appellee-Petitioner.

          Appeal from the Jackson Superior Court No. 36D02-1708-PO-141 The Honorable Chris D. Monroe, Senior Judge

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Kenneth J. Falk ACLU of Indiana Indianapolis, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michelle Cooper Sara R. Blevins Lewis & Kappes, P.C. Indianapolis, Indiana

          NAJAM, JUDGE.

         Statement of the Case

         [¶1] S.B. appeals the trial court's issuance of an order for protection on behalf of Seymour Community Schools ("SCS").[1] S.B. raises four issues for our review, which we restate as the following three issues:

1. Whether SCS has standing to petition for an order for protection.
2. Whether the trial court's issuance of the order for protection was clearly erroneous.
3. Whether the order for protection violates S.B.'s rights under the First Amendment or the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.

         [¶2] We affirm and remand with instructions.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶3] In the summer of 2015, a teacher at the Seymour Middle School molested S.B.'s daughter.[2] As a result of that molestation, S.B.'s daughter has needed extensive therapy, and she is suicidal. However, her family can no longer afford her medical bills. S.B. has sought compensation from SCS "because of the damage [done] by their employee, " to no avail.[3] Tr. at 38.

         [¶4] On August 9, 2017, the first day of the new school year, S.B. stood on a public sidewalk immediately adjacent to the grounds of the Seymour Middle School. S.B. held a sign that read, in red capital letters against a white background, "WE PROTECT PEDOPHILES." Ex. Vol. at 4.[4] S.B.'s sign was attached to the end of a long-handled shovel, with the shovel end against the pavement. S.B., who has a license to carry, had a handgun holstered on his right hip.

         [¶5] The day before his protest, S.B. called the Seymour Police Department and informed officers that he would be "present at the Middle School" on the "public sidewalk" and that he "might have a weapon." Tr. at 5. As such, multiple police officers were at the school during S.B.'s protest. One officer, Seymour Police Department Officer Chadd Rogers, stood near S.B. throughout his protest. Officer Rogers testified that he had positioned himself near S.B. because Rogers thought parents "would feel more comfortable if I was standing next to him" in light of S.B.'s visible firearm. Id. at 43. As parents dropped their children off at the school, "a number" of them asked school officials why S.B. was standing on the sidewalk, and at least "one father was very upset that . . . the first thing [his] child saw . . . [on the] first day of school was [a] man standing outside the school with [a] gun." Id. at 30.

         [¶6] SCS Superintendent Robert Hooker approached S.B., who "greeted [Hooker] . . . pleasantly." Id. at 8. Hooker asked S.B., "what is this about?" Id. S.B. said "this was about . . . his daughter and [the] former teacher." Id. Hooker then asked S.B. if S.B. would "put his weapon in []his car" because Hooker "was concerned about a weapon that close to school children . . . ." Id.

         [¶7] Hooker considered the proximity of the weapon to be "a major threat . . . given the nature of . . . school violence." Id. As Hooker later explained:

when there is [a] weapon anywhere near [a] school we lock down[. B]ehind us is Cummins and [it] wasn't that long ago an employee shot his supervisor . . . [, and] whenever a bank . . . is robbed . . . the police department does an excellent job informing us, and we tend to lock down . . . whether . . . we even know if there's a weapon[] or not[. W]e ...

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