Erika Ogedegbe, a member of the Leesburg District School Board, has issued a call for special considerations for students who have experienced abuse when it comes to school safety protocols in Dulles, Virginia. The Court has before it the motions to dismiss the School Board and Howard under Rule 12 (b) (of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure). For the reasons listed below, the School Board's motions will be granted in their entirety; Howard's motions will be granted in part and denied in part; and all charges will be dismissed from the plaintiffs' complaints, except for the gross negligence claims against Howard. Although these civil actions have been consolidated for pre-trial purposes, the School Board and Howard filed separate motions regarding Graham and Lanier.
Each defendant's motions essentially raise the same arguments, as do the plaintiffs' responses to those motions. The following facts have been extracted from the allegations of the plaintiffs' claims and, for the purpose of analyzing the defendants' motions to dismiss them, are assumed to be true. Despite Christian's efforts to hide his misbehavior, there were signs that something was wrong. It was public knowledge that Christian had close relationships with many children enrolled in Baldwin Elementary School and often spent time with them at school and outside the school campus.
Graham's mother told Howard, the principal of Baldwin Elementary School at the time, that she felt Christian's relationships with the children were worrisome. Lanier's mother had a similar conversation with Howard. A school administrator publicly expressed concern for Christian, and a third-grade teacher observed that Christian's relationships with male students were inappropriately close. In 1996, someone contacted the local police department to urge an investigation into whether Christian was abusing male students.
Howard was contacted by the police to gather evidence related to these allegations, but Howard was allegedly hostile to such efforts and no charges were filed at the time. Students who have experienced abuse have an interest in freedom in their bodily integrity that is protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and that physical sexual abuse by a school employee violates that right); see also Hall v. Tawney, 621 F., 2d 607 (Fourth Cir.). The plaintiffs' Title IX (count I) lawsuit against Howard must be dismissed because school officials cannot be sued in an individual capacity under Title IX. Kinman v.
Transit Administrator. While neither Title IX nor § 1983 contain any provision that addresses statute of limitations, the parties agree that the corresponding statute of limitations for plaintiffs' claims under federal law is two years. The Supreme Court has held that the statute of limitations for all claims under Article 1983 is determined by reference to the general or residual personal injury law of the forum state. Although Owens and Wilson addressed § 1983, all circuits that considered the issue have held that Title IX also borrows the corresponding state statute of limitations in case of personal injury; Wilmink v. App's 294 (Fourth Version).
State University. Consequently, the statute of limitations applicable to plaintiffs' claims under Title IX and § 1983 is Virginia's two-year statute for personal injury actions. The School Board and Howard set forth additional reasons why the plaintiffs' claims under Title IX and § 1983 are factually or legally insufficient. In light of the conclusion that all federal law demands are untimely, the Court need not address those alternative arguments. Counts V through VIII of each plaintiff's lawsuit allege that the School Board is responsible for gross negligence, assault, assault and intentionally inflicting emotional distress. The School Board holds that these lawsuits for violation of state law are untimely and are prohibited by sovereign common-law immunity.
Since the Court considers that the School Board is entitled to sovereign immunity there is no need to address alternative argument of statute of limitations. The only live count left in every complaint is a gross negligence lawsuit against Howard. Although Howard tries to argue that charges of gross negligence cannot be approved with Twombly and Iqbal his arguments are not convincing. Under Virginia law gross negligence represents a degree of negligence that shows indifference to another person and an utter disregard for prudence that amounts to a total neglect of that other person's safety; Elliot v Hospice Support Care Inc. As alleged plaintiffs' complaints meet this standard.