United States District Court, C.D. California
Present: The Honorable CHRISTINA A. SNYDER
DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS PORTIONS OF
PLAINTIFF’S FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT (DKT. 58, FILED
JULY 1, 2016)
Honorable CHRISTINA A. SNYDER
January 14, 2016, plaintiff Jane Doe, a minor, by and through
her parental Guardian Ad Litem, John Doe
(collectively, “plaintiff”), filed the instant
action against defendants: the Los Angeles Unified School
District (“LAUSD”); Paul Revere Middle School and
Magnet Center (“Paul Revere”); Steven Carnine
(“Carnine”), a teacher at Paul Revere; Thomas
Iannuci (“Iannucci”), the assistant principal of
Paul Revere; Christopher Perdigao (“Perdigao”),
the principal of Paul Revere; and Michelle King
(“King”), the superintendent of LAUSD
(collectively, “defendants”). Dkt. 1. On March
17, 2016, all of the defendants, with the exception of
defendant Carnine, filed a motion to dismiss portions of
plaintiff’s complaint. Dkt. 38. On May 16, 2016, the
Court granted in part and denied in part defendants’
motion. Dkt. 47.
14, 2016, plaintiff filed the operative First Amended
Complaint (“FAC”). Dkt. 50. In the FAC, plaintiff
asserts claims against defendants for: (1) Violation of Title
VI of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d-Hostile
Racial Educational Environment; (2) Violation of Title VI of
the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d-Intentional
Discrimination on the Basis of Race; (3) Violation of Title
VI of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §
2000d-Intentional Discrimination on the Basis of Race by
Failure to Provide Adequate Sensitivity Training; (4)
Violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983-Freedom of Speech; and (5)
Violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983-Equal Protection. In
brief, plaintiff alleges that defendant Carnine, a teacher at
plaintiff’s former middle school, Paul Revere Middle
School, made racially offensive comments to her and that the
remaining defendants failed to take adequate steps to protect
plaintiff from the hostile educational environment that
erupted after she complained about Carnine’s comments.
1, 2016, defendants filed a motion to dismiss portions of
plaintiff’s complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6). Dkt. 58. Specifically, defendants move to
dismiss plaintiff’s Third, Fourth, and Fifth claims for
relief. Id. On July 11, 2016, plaintiff filed an
opposition, Dkt. 62, and on August 1, 2016, defendants filed
a reply, Dkt. 64. Having carefully considered the
parties’ arguments, the Court finds and concludes as
alleges the following facts in her FAC: Plaintiff is a
fourteen year old African-American female, who formerly
attended Paul Revere Middle School, a charter school within
LAUSD. FAC ¶¶ 3-4. In January of 2015, during the
second semester of her 8th grade year, plaintiff
was promoted to an honors level History course taught by
defendant Carnine. Id. ¶¶ 22-23. On her
first day of class, plaintiff entered Carnine’s
classroom and handed him her transfer slip. Id.
¶ 23. Carnine read the slip, looked at plaintiff, and
asked: “Why are you in my class?” Id.
Plaintiff explained that her former teacher had recommended
that she be promoted to Carnine’s honors level course.
Id. Carnine then proceeded to look plaintiff from
head to toe and said “you can sit over
there”-placing emphasis on the word “you”
and pointing to a seat in the front corner of the classroom
several empty seats removed from the other students seated in
the classroom at that time. Id. During the entire
time plaintiff was a student in Carnine’s class, she
was the only African-American student in the class.
Id. ¶ 24.
around January 16, 2015, and the Friday before Martin Luther
King Day, Carnine gave a lesson on what he termed
“racial tolerance.” Id. ¶ 26. As
part of this lesson, Carnine handed out questionaires to his
students. Id. This questionnaire contained the
following prompts: “What races do you feel get
stereotyped the most?”; “What do you think of
racism today?”; “List some stereotypes.”
Id. Carnine instructed the students to fill out the
questionnaire and then asked volunteers to read their answers
aloud. Id. One white student volunteered and
provided the following example of a stereotype:
“African Americans are judged based upon athletic
abilities and considered to be less intelligent or
smart.” Id. According to plaintiff, at this
point Carnine interjected and said “Oh yeah. That is a
good example. Black people are judged for not being smart
because they are not smart. A lot of them are just
athletes.” Id. Carnine then provided his own
example of a stereotype: “[I]f I am walking by myself
at night, and there are two black guys following behind me, I
am immediately going to get scared and think they are going
to rob or hurt me.” Id. Plaintiff alleges that
while Carnine made these comments he stared at plaintiff.
Id. Carnine ended the lesson by discussing the, then
recent, incident in Ferguson, Missouri, in which a Caucasion
police officer, Darren Wilson, shot and killed an
African-American man, Michael Brown. Id. ¶ 28.
Plaintiff states that Carnine opined, “the guy [Brown]
was a thug and got what he deserved.” Id.
Plaintiff, who was at that time thirteen years old, avers
that she felt hurt by Carnine’s comments. Id.
¶ 34. Moreover, plaintiff states that at no point during
the lesson did Carnine explicitly disavow or condemn any of
the stereotypes. Id. ¶ 33.
to plaintiff, Carnine’s lesson was adapted from an
“Anti-Bias Study Guide” published in 2000 by the
New York branch of the Anti-Defamation League
(“ADL”). Id. ¶ 27. In the ADL
version of the lesson plan, teachers are instructed to offer
the following examples of stereotypes: “all teenagers
shoplift” and “third graders are babies.”
Id. The ADL version also does not instruct teachers
to mention specific races, or to ask students to generate and
read aloud common stereotypes of races they are not members
Carnines’ “racial tolerance” lesson was
over, several of plaintiff’s classmates came up to her
to ask if she felt okay about what had happened in class.
Id. ¶ 35. Plaintiff returned home that evening
in tears and told her parents about the stereotypes she was
told were commonly attributed to people like her and her
family. Id. ¶ 36. Plaintiff was out sick the
following week. Id. ¶ 37. On January 27, 2015,
plaintiff’s parents attempted to contact Carnine
regarding an upcoming test in his class. Id. ¶
38. Pursuant to a school policy, plaintiff was entitled to a
one day extension on assignments for every day she was out
sick. Id. Plaintiff’s parents left several
voice messages for Carnine, whose only reply was a single
voice message in which he mistook plaintiff for another
student and said nothing about the extension. Id.
January 28, 2015, plaintiff’s mother contacted a school
administrator, who told plaintiff’s mother that she
needed to write a note on plaintiff’s behalf and that
the administrator would personally deliver it to Carnine.
Id. ¶ 39. Later that day, plaintiff returned to
Carnine’s classroom. Id. ¶ 40. When
plaintiff arrived in Carnine’s classroom he approached
her holding the note her mother had written. Id.
Carnine again asked plaintiff why she was in his class and
she responded that she had “switched to honors.”
Id. According to plaintiff, Carnine then threw the
note in her face. Id. Carnine then proceeded to
address the whole class and stated: “You will not be
getting your tests back on time because there are students
who felt they needed more time to study so they did not take
the test.” Id.
thereafter, Carnine gave a lesson on the Civil War that
plaintiff attended. Id. ¶ 45. In the course of
this lesson, Carnine used the phrase “n-i-g-g-e-r
lover.” Id. Carnine explained that this word
had been used as a negative term for President Abraham
Lincoln. Id. Carnine did not actually speak this
phrase, but rather spelled it aloud for the class.
Id. Plaintiff contends that this phrase was not
contained in any of the teaching materials or lesson plans
provided or approved by LAUSD. Id. Nor did it appear
in any of the required reading for Carnine’s course.
this incident, defendant Iannucci assured plaintiff’s
father that her complaints would be investigated.
Id. ¶ 59. To this end, Iannucci selected seven
students from Carnine’s class and asked them to
describe anything unusual that had happened in the last two
weeks. Id. ¶ 63. Six out of the seven students
mentioned Carnine’s use of the “N-word.”
Id. ¶ 64. Iannucci was apparently satisfied by
these responses and concluded that Carnine’s conduct
had been appropriate. Id. ¶ 68.
March 18, 2015, plaintif filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles
Superior Court alleging violations of the Unruh Civil Rights
Act based on intentional discrimination by Carnine, Paul
Revere, and LAUSD. Id. ¶ 78. Immediately after
plaintiff filed her state court action, supervisors at Paul
Revere removed Carnine from the classroom and ordered a more
in-depth investigation into the propriety of his actions.
Id. ¶¶ 79-80. Plaintiff alleges that, in
response to her lawsuit, a large group of parents and student
began pressuring Paul Revere to reinstate Carnine.
Id. ¶ 81. According to plaintiff, these
individuals viewed Carnine as the aggrieved party and
believed his actions toward plaintiff had been appropriate.
Id. Plaintiff further alleges that local parents and
students started a Facebook page titled “Save
Carnine” and began distributing an online petition
demanding that Carnine be reinstated. Id. ¶ 83.
Plaintiff alleges that posts on this site questioned her
motives, dismissed her allegations, and threatened her
safety. Id. Examples of these posts include:
“Plaintiff must pay for lying”; plaintiff is
“an attention whore”; plaintiff should be
“home schooled”; “Kids are not being very
nice to [plaintiff] at school but who could ...