IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
June 4, 2008
RORY M. WALSH, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS NATURAL GUARDIAN OF C.R.W., PLAINTIFF
DR. ROBERT KRANTZ, SHARI A. YOUNG, SUE A. CATHCART, JUDY KEENEY, KELLY HEISEY, UNKNOWN DALLASTOWN STAFF MEMBER, DR. STEWART WEINBERG, DALLASTOWN AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT, STEVEN L. TURNER, AND PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, DEFENDANTS
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Conner
Presently before the court are the motions, filed by defendants Dr. Robert Krantz ("Krantz"), Shari A. Young ("Young"), Sue A. Cathcart ("Cathcart"), Judy Keeney ("Keeney"), Kelly Heisey ("Heisey"), Dr. Stewart Weinberg ("Weinberg"), Dallastown Area School District ("School District"),*fn1 and Steven L. Turner ("Turner"), to dismiss the claims of pro se plaintiff Rory M. Walsh ("Walsh") brought individually and on behalf of his son, C.R.W.*fn2 For the reasons that follow, the motions will be granted in part and denied in part.
I. Statement of Facts*fn3
In 2004, Mrs. Zarfoss, an English teacher at Dallastown Area Middle School, arrived at Walsh's residence on a Sunday without prior notification and purportedly began to curse at and call Walsh names. Walsh reported this incident to Krantz, the then-principal of the school. According to the complaint, Krantz subsequently directed Heisey to contact social services to have Walsh's son, C.R.W., removed from his custody.*fn4 (Doc. 1 ¶¶ 9, 14-15, 56.)
When mid-term grades were announced in the fall of 2005, C.R.W. received a blank and an "E" grade from Young. Walsh was surprised by these grades because Young had not sent a note home, as school policy dictates, informing him that C.R.W. had missed three or more assignments. (Id. ¶ 26.) Young allegedly refused to attend a conference with Walsh to discuss C.R.W.'s progress and grades.*fn5 Young also recommended that C.R.W. receive a psychological evaluation, but Walsh refused.*fn6 (Id.) Cathcart then immediately restricted Walsh from the Dallastown Area Middle School.*fn7 (Id.) In May 2006, Young failed to give C.R.W. mid-term grades. (Id. ¶ 28.) Walsh reported this failure to Krantz, who allegedly responded by insulting Walsh. (Id. ¶ 29.)
In December 2005, Krantz pressured Walsh to have C.R.W. undergo a psychological evaluation. Walsh again refused to allow such testing. (Id. ¶ 18.) Cathcart then informed each of C.R.W.'s teachers that Walsh refused to allow his son to be tested. (Id. ¶ 31.) During this time, Walsh reported to Krantz that Young was abusing her students, bringing one student to tears in class and repeatedly changing due dates of assignments. (Id. ¶ 19.) Krantz became enraged and ordered Walsh to his office because "Krantz's limited authority under the Safe Schools Act only covers his campus, and [Krantz] has become accustomed to belittling parents within his office." (Id. ¶ 20.) Walsh reported this incident with Krantz to Weinberg, the Superintendent of the School District, who advised Walsh to report to Krantz's office and recommended that Walsh allow the school to evaluate C.R.W.*fn8 (Id. ¶ 21.) Walsh believes that Krantz similarly treated other families within the school district who had complained about Krantz's actions to drive them from the district, just as he was attempting to drive Walsh and his children from the school district. (Id. ¶¶ 10, 23-24.)
On March 29, 2006, Krantz blocked the first of two telephone calls from Walsh to C.R.W.*fn9 With the assistance of an unknown Dallastown staff member, Krantz allegedly eavesdropped on a subsequent telephone conversation between Walsh and C.R.W. (Id. ¶¶ 9, 34, 37, 40, 43.) An email from Krantz to Walsh revealed the contents of the conversation between Walsh and his son, and in the email Krantz "expressed his fury that a parent would call his school, twice in the same day."*fn10 (Id. ¶ 44.)
Walsh initiated an inquiry into the alleged wrongdoing of these Dallastown Area School District staff members. According to the complaint, Turner, the assigned investigator, failed to conduct an impartial inquiry, repeatedly tried to precipitate an incident at Walsh's residence during the investigation, and falsely reported C.R.W.'s statements regarding Young's conduct. (Id. ¶¶ 11, 49.) Walsh avers that Young no longer works at the Dallastown Area Middle School and that Krantz was transferred to the Dover School District because of their alleged wrongdoing. (Id. ¶¶ 12, 22.)
Walsh commenced the instant action on April 2, 2007. (See id.) He alleges, inter alia, that Krantz, Cathcart, Keeney, Young, and Heisey attempted to deprive him and his children of a public education (id. ¶¶ 16, 55). The complaint sets forth nine counts against the individual defendants and the School District: (1) 18 U.S.C. § 241 (conspiracy against rights), (2) 42 U.S.C. § 1985 (conspiracy to interfere with civil rights), (3) 5 U.S.C. § 552 (Privacy Act), (4) 18 U.S.C. § 119 (interception of oral communications), (5) 18 U.S.C. §§ 2510-2520 (Federal Wiretapping Act), (6) 47 U.S.C. § 605 (unauthorized publication or use of communications), (7) 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. §§ 5703, 5704, 5725 (Pennsylvania Wiretap Act), (8) 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (civil action for deprivation of rights), and (9) 18 U.S.C. § 875 (interstate communications). Turner filed a motion to dismiss the § 1983 claim against him*fn11 and the School District defendants filed a motion to dismiss all claims against them.*fn12 The motions have been fully briefed*fn13 and are ripe for disposition.
II. Standard of Review
Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for the dismissal of complaints that fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). When ruling on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must "accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Kanter v. Barella, 489 F.3d 170, 177 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 350 (3d Cir. 2005)). Although the court is generally limited in its review to the facts in the complaint, it "may also consider matters of public record, orders, exhibits attached to the complaint and items appearing in the record of the case." Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 n. 2 (3d Cir. 1994); see also In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997).
Federal notice pleading rules require the complaint to "give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Sershen v. Cholish, No. 3:07-CV-1011, 2007 WL 3146357, at *4 (M.D. Pa. Oct. 26, 2007) (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, --- U.S. ---, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007)). The plaintiff must present facts that, if true, demonstrate a plausible right to relief. See FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a) (stating that the complaint should include "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief"); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, ---U.S. ---, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007) (requiring plaintiffs to allege facts sufficient to "raise a right to relief above the speculative level"); Victaulic Co. v. Tieman, 499 F.3d 227, 234 (3d Cir. 2007). Thus, courts should not dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim if it "contain[s] either direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements necessary to sustain recovery under some viable legal theory." Montville Twp. v. Woodmont Builders LLC, No. 05-4888, 2007 WL 2261567, at *2 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, --- U.S. at ---, 127 S.Ct. at 1969). Under this liberal pleading standard, courts should generally grant plaintiffs leave to amend their claims before dismissing a complaint that is merely deficient. See Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 108 (3d Cir. 2002); Shane v. Fauver, 213 F.3d 113, 116-17 (3d Cir. 2000).
The complaint raises: (1) claims under various criminal statutes, (2) a 42 U.S.C. § 1985 claim, (3) a Privacy Act claim, (4) claims relating to the alleged eavesdropping, and (5) claims brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The court will address these claims seriatim. Before doing so, however, the court will address defendants' contention that Walsh cannot bring claims belonging to his son.
A. C.R.W.'s Claims
The School District defendants contend that Walsh lacks standing to bring claims belonging to his son. (Doc. 18 at 5.) They argue that Walsh did not properly bring the claims on behalf of his son. (Id. at 7.) The court disagrees. Although Walsh cannot bring individual claims for the alleged injuries sustained by C.R.W.,*fn14 a liberal reading of the complaint, see supra note 3, reveals that Walsh intended to bring individual claims for his own alleged injuries and claims on behalf of his son when he used the caption "Rory M. Walsh, individually and as natural guardian of C.R.W., a minor." Indeed, in all but three counts-Counts II, VIII, and IX-the complaint reads: "Plaintiffs pray for entry of a Judgment in their favor against defendants." (Doc. 1 at 8, 10-12.) Under Rule 17 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, it is proper for Walsh, as natural guardian of C.R.W., to bring claims on behalf of C.R.W. See FED. R. CIV. P. 17. Therefore, to the extent that Walsh brings individual claims for the alleged injuries to his son, the court will grant the School District defendants' motion to dismiss. However, to the extent that Walsh brings claims on behalf of his son, the court will deny the motion.*fn15
B. Criminal Statutes
Defendants contend that Walsh cannot maintain the claims premised on the following criminal statutes: (1) 18 U.S.C. § 241, (2) 18 U.S.C. § 875, and (3) 18 U.S.C. § 119. The court agrees. "A private party has no right to enforce federal criminal statutes." Balawajder v. Jacobs, 220 F.3d 586, 586 (5th Cir. 2000).*fn16 Nor do the criminal statutes at issue provide for a private right of enforcement. See Three Rivers Ctr. for Ind. Living v. Hous. Auth., 382 F.3d 412, 420 (3d Cir. 2004) ("A court must look to the text of the statute to see if it states, by its terms, that a private party may bring suit to enforce it."); Barr v. Camelot Forest Conservation Ass'n, 153 F. App'x 860, 862 (3d Cir. 2005) (affirming the dismissal of the federal criminal statute claims because 18 U.S.C. §§ 241, 242, and 245 "are criminal offenses for which there is no civil remedy, and therefore, [plaintiff] lacked standing to bring them"); United States v. City of Philadelphia, 482 F. Supp. 1248, 1260 (E.D. Pa. 1979) ("On their face, [18 U.S.C. §§ 241 and 242] neither authorize any civil suit nor create any civil liability.").*fn17 Notably, Walsh's opposition to the dismissal of these claims does not attempt to demonstrate that he has a private right of action under these criminal statutes.*fn18 (See Doc. 33 at 6, 20-21.) Accordingly, the motion to dismiss these criminal claims-Counts I, IV, and IX of the complaint-will be granted and leave to amend will be denied as futile. See Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 108 (3d Cir. 2002).
C. Section 1985 Claim
Walsh alleges a § 1985 claim against various School District defendants. (See Doc. 1 at 8-9.) Section 1985(3) provides a cause of action against a person who conspires "for the purpose of depriving, either directly or indirectly, any person or class of persons of the equal protection of the laws, or of equal privileges and immunities under the laws." 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3).*fn19 To establish a prima facie case under § 1985(3), a plaintiff must allege: "(1) a conspiracy; (2) motivated by a racial or class based discriminatory animus designed to deprive, directly or indirectly, any person or class of persons . . . [of] the equal protection of the laws; (3) an act in furtherance of the conspiracy; and (4) an injury to person or property or the deprivation of any right or privilege of a citizen of the United States." Ridgewood Bridgeport. of Educ. v. N.E. ex rel. M.E., 172 F.3d 238, 253-54 (3d Cir. 1999); see also Farber v. City of Patterson, 440 F.3d 131, 134 (3d Cir. 2006); Griffin v. Breckenridge, 403 U.S. 88, 102-03 (1971); Brown v. Philip Morris Inc., 250 F.3d 789, 805 (3d Cir. 2001); Lake v. Arnold, 112 F.3d 682, 685 (3d Cir. 1997).
In the matter sub judice, the complaint is devoid of allegations sufficient to state a § 1985 claim. First, the complaint does not allege a conspiracy or agreement among the defendants; it merely sets forth the individual actions of these defendants. Second, the complaint does not allege that "any 'racial or class based discriminatory animus'" motivated defendants' conduct. See Cranbury Brook Farms v. Twp. of Cranbury, 226 F. App'x 92, 95 (3d Cir. 2007) (citing Lake v. Arnold, 112 F.3d 682, 685 (3d Cir. 1997)). Finally, the complaint does not identify a protected class to which Walsh belongs. In his opposition brief, however, Walsh argues that he is a member of the protected class of single-parent families. (See Doc. 33 at 20.) The court finds that single-parent families do not constitute a protected class for purposes of § 1985.
In determining whether a class is protected under § 1985, "a court must examine whether a plaintiff belongs to a class that exhibits immutable characteristics for which it bears no responsibility and whether the class has suffered historically pervasive discrimination." Laufgas v. Bramson, No. 04-387, 2006 WL 1805884, at *6 (D.N.J. June 29, 2006) ("[T]he Third Circuit, in holding that persons with handicaps were members of a protected class for purposes of 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3), noted that a court must examine whether a plaintiff belongs to a class that exhibits immutable characteristics for which it bears no responsibility and whether the class has suffered historically pervasive discrimination." (citing Lake v. Arnold, 112 F.3d 682, 688 (3d Cir. 1997))); Humphrey v. Court of Common Pleas of York County, Pa., 640 F. Supp. 1239, 1243 (M.D. Pa. 1986) (same). The court finds that Walsh's purported class-single-parent families-fails to satisfy either of these criteria. Id. (finding that the plaintiff's purported class-divorcing fathers, divorced fathers, or fathers engaged in custody disputes-does not satisfy either criteria); see also Borlawsky v. Town of Windham, 115 F. Supp. 2d 27, 29 (D. Me. 2000) ("The class for which the plaintiff claims protection is 'divorced or otherwise single women parents.' That is not a recognized class [under § 1985(3)]."). Therefore, the purported class is not a protected class for purposes of § 1985. Accordingly, the court will grant the School District defendants' motion to dismiss the § 1985 claim-Count II of the complaint-and will deny leave to amend as futile. See Grayson, 293 F.3d at 108.
D. Privacy Act
Walsh brings a Privacy Act claim against Cathcart and the School District, alleging that Cathcart informed each of C.R.W.'s teachers that Walsh refused to allow his son to be tested. (See Doc. 1 at 9-10.) The Privacy Act provides that "[n]o agency shall disclose any record which is contained in a system of records by any means of communication to any person, or to another agency, except pursuant to a written request by, or with the prior written consent of, the individual to whom the record pertains." 5 U.S.C. § 552a(b) (emphasis added). The court agrees with its sister courts in the Western District of Pennsylvania and the District of New Jersey that a Privacy Act claim cannot be brought against an individual or a state or local agency. See Fetzer v. Cambria County Human Servs., 384 F. Supp. 2d 813, 816 (W.D. Pa. 2005);*fn20 Cummings v. Malone, No. 06-5442, 2006 WL 3694592, at *3 (D.N.J. Dec. 12, 2006) ("The Privacy Act prohibits certain records from being disclosed by federal agencies, except upon written consent of the individual to whom the record pertains, with exceptions. However, Plaintiff may not seek damages under the Privacy Act because that statute authorizes a civil action to be brought solely against a federal agency." (citations omitted)). In the matter sub judice, the complaint does not name a federal agency as a defendant. Therefore, the Privacy Act claim must fail. Accordingly, the court will grant the School District defendants' motion to dismiss this claim-Count III of the complaint-and will deny leave to amend as futile. See Grayson, 293 F.3d at 108.
E. Eavesdropping Claims
Walsh brings three claims related to the alleged eavesdropping on a telephone call with his son by Krantz and an unknown Dallastown staff member:*fn21 (1) 18 U.S.C. §§ 2510-2520 (Federal Wiretapping Act), (2) 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. §§ 5703, 5704, 5725 (Pennsylvania Wiretap Act), and (3) 47 U.S.C. § 605 (unauthorized publication or use of communications).*fn22
With respect to the first claim, the Federal Wiretapping Act provides a private right of action:
[A]ny person whose wire, oral, or electronic communication is intercepted, disclosed, or intentionally used in violation of this chapter may in a civil action recover from the person or entity, other than the United States, which engaged in that violation such relief as may be appropriate.
18 U.S.C. § 2520(a). A person violates the Federal Wiretapping Act if the person:
(a) intentionally intercepts, endeavors to intercept, or procures any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept, any wire, oral, or electronic communication;
(b) intentionally uses, endeavors to use, or procures any other person to use or endeavor to use any electronic, mechanical, or other device to intercept any oral communication . . .
(c) intentionally discloses, or endeavors to disclose, to any other person the contents of any wire, oral, or electronic communication, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through the interception of a wire, oral, or electronic communication in violation of this subsection;
(d) intentionally uses, or endeavors to use, the contents of any wire, oral, or electronic communication, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through the interception of a wire, oral, or electronic communication in violation of this subsection . . . .
Id. § 2511(1).
In the instant matter, the School District defendants argue, without offering any legal support, that the telephone conversation to which they are alleged to have eavesdropped was not a wire or oral communication under the Federal Wiretapping Act. (See Doc. 18 at 16.) They also contend that Walsh had no expectation that the conversation would not be subject to interception because the alleged interception occurred on school premises while C.R.W. was in the presence of Krantz. (Id. at 17.) The court disagrees. The complaint alleges that a private telephone conversation was intercepted by Krantz, with the assistance of an unknown Dallastown staff member. The School District defendants do not set forth any authority for the proposition that this telephone conversation is not a wire communication. See 18 U.S.C. § 2510(1) ("'[W]ire communication' means any aural transfer made in whole or in part through the use of facilities for the transmission of communications by the aid of wire, cable, or other like connection between the point of origin and the point of reception . . . ."); see also, e.g., Briggs v. Am. Air Filter Co., 630 F.2d 414, 417 (5th Cir. 1980) (stating that under 18 U.S.C. § 2510(1)
"[a] telephone conversation is a wire communication"). A liberal reading of the complaint, see supra note 3, reveals that Walsh does not allege that Krantz merely overheard C.R.W.'s side of the conversation while C.R.W. was in his presence. Instead, Walsh alleges that Krantz "eavesdropped" (i.e., listened in) on both sides of their telephone conversation. In addition, Walsh's use of "eavesdropped" and "without authorization" in the complaint implies an expectation of privacy in the conversation.*fn23 In the restricted posture of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion,*fn24 the court finds that the allegations of the pro se complaint are sufficient to state a claim under the Federal Wiretapping Act. Accordingly, the court will deny the School District defendants' motion to dismiss this claim.
Walsh's second claim relating to the alleged eavesdropping is brought under the Pennsylvania Wiretap Act.*fn25 Under this Act, a plaintiff must demonstrate: "(1) that he engaged in [an oral] communication; (2) that he possessed an expectation that the communication would not be intercepted; (3) that his expectation was justifiable under the circumstances; and (4) that the defendant attempted to, or successfully intercepted the communication, or encouraged another to do so." Kline v. Security Guards, Inc., 386 F.3d 246, 257 (3d Cir. 2004) (quoting Agnew v. Dupler, 717 A.2d 519, 522 (Pa. 1998)). Given the allegations discussed above, the court finds that the complaint sufficiently pleads a claim under the Pennsylvania Wiretap Act to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. See supra note 24. Accordingly, the court will deny the School District defendants' motion to dismiss this claim.
Walsh's final claim relating to the alleged eavesdropping involves 47 U.S.C. § 605, which provides, in part:
[N]o person receiving, assisting in receiving, transmitting, or assisting in transmitting, any interstate or foreign communication by wire or radio shall divulge or publish the existence, contents, substance, purport, effect, or meaning thereof, except through authorized channels of transmission or reception . . . .
Id. § 605(a). This statute provides a private right of action: "Any person aggrieved by any violation of subsection (a) of this section . . . may bring a civil action in a United States district court . . . ." Id. § 605(e)(3)(A).
In the matter sub judice, the School District defendants argue that the complaint does not allege that the telephone conversation was an "interstate or foreign communication" as required by § 605. The court agrees. The complaint is devoid of any allegations that could be liberally construed to allege the "interstate or foreign communication" required with respect to the telephone conversation at issue. Notably, Walsh does not address this argument in his brief in opposition.*fn26
Accordingly, the court will grant the School District defendants' motion to dismiss this claim-Count VI of the complaint. However, the court will grant Walsh leave to file an amended complaint with respect to this claim.*fn27
F. 42 U.S.C. § 1983*fn28
Section 1983 offers private citizens a means to redress violations of federal law by state officials. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The statute provides, in pertinent part, as follows:
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress . . . .
Id. Section 1983 is not a source of substantive rights, but merely a method to vindicate violations of federal law committed by state actors.*fn29 Kneipp v. Tedder, 95 F.3d 1199, 1204 (3d Cir. 1996). To establish a claim under this section, a plaintiff must show a deprivation of a "right secured by the Constitution and the laws of the United States . . . by a person acting under color of state law."*fn30 Id. (quoting Mark v. Borough of Hatboro, 51 F.3d 1137, 1141 (3d Cir. 1995)).
Although the complaint alleges multiple violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (see Doc. 1 at 12), it does not specifically state the federal rights implicated. Liberally construing the complaint, see supra note 3, the court finds that it raises: (1) a Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process claim against the School District defendants*fn31 and Turner and (2) a Fourth Amendment claim against Krantz and an unknown Dallastown staff member.*fn32 The court will address these claims seriatim.
1. Fourteenth Amendment Substantive Due Process Claim
The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides, in relevant part, that "[n]o State shall . . . deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." U.S. CONST. amend. XIV, § 1. "To establish a substantive due process claim, a plaintiff must prove the particular interest at issue is protected by the substantive due process clause and the government's deprivation of that protected interest shocks the conscience." Chainey v. Street, 523 F.3d 200, 219 (3d Cir. 2008) (citing United Artists Theatre Circuit, Inc. v. Twp. of Warrington, 316 F.3d 392, 400-02 (3d Cir. 2003)). Substantive due process does not target government actions that are merely taken for an "improper purpose" or in "bad faith." See United Artists Theatre, 316 F.3d at 400-02; Corneal v. Jackson Twp., 313 F. Supp. 2d 457, 465-66 (M.D. Pa. 2003), aff'd, 94 F. App'x 76 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 543 U.S. 871(2004). "'Conscience shocking' actions go beyond actions compensable in ordinary intentional and negligent tort law." Koehler ex rel. Koehler v. Juniata County Sch. Dist., No. 1:07-CV-0117, 2008 WL 1787632, at *12 (M.D. Pa. Apr. 17, 2008) (citing Collings v. City of Harker Heights, Tex., 503 U.S. 115, 128 (1992)). In the matter sub judice, a liberal reading of the complaint, see supra note 3, reveals that Walsh alleges a violation of the right to a public education where he and his children reside and the right to privacy.
a. Public Education
Walsh alleges a violation of his, and his children's, right to a public education where they reside. However, Walsh, as an "adult male" (Doc. 1 ¶ 23), is not entitled to a public education in Pennsylvania. See 24 PA. CONS. STAT. § 13-1301 ("Every child, being a resident of any school district, between the ages of six (6) and twenty-one (21) years, may attend the public schools in his district, subject to the provisions of this act."). And, as previously discussed, Walsh cannot bring an individual claim for the alleged injuries of others. See supra Part III.A; see also supra note 28.
Assuming, arguendo, that Walsh was entitled to a public education or that he had brought this claim on behalf of C.R.W., this substantive due process claim still would not survive defendants' motions to dismiss. "[T]he Supreme Court has held that there is no fundamental right to [a] public education." Bowers v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 475 F.3d 524, 553 (3d Cir. 2007) (citing San Antonio Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 1, 35 (1973)). An entitlement to a public education, however, is found under state law. See Shuman v. Penn Manor Sch. Dist., 422 F.3d 141, 149 & n.3 (3d Cir. 2005). In the instant matter, the allegations of the complaint demonstrate that C.R.W. was not in any way deprived of a public education.*fn33 (See, e.g., Doc. 1 ¶ 55 (stating that defendants "attempted to deprive Plaintiff and his children of a public education" (emphasis added))). In addition, the court finds that the alleged conduct of defendants (e.g., recommending that C.R.W. be tested, changing due dates of assignments, calling Walsh names and otherwise attempting to precipitate an event at his residence, and restricting Walsh's access to the school) does not shock the conscience (i.e., it does not rise to the level of a substantive due process violation). Accordingly, the court will grant defendants' motions to dismiss with respect to this substantive due process claim and will deny leave to amend as futile.*fn34
The U.S. Constitution does not explicitly provide a right to privacy. However, under the substantive component of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, "there are two clearly identifiable zones of privacy which have been afforded protection: (1) one's interest in avoiding the disclosure of personal matters; and (2) the right to autonomy and independence in personal decision-making." Konopka v. Borough of Wyoming, 383 F. Supp. 2d 666, 677 (M.D. Pa. 2005) (citing Whalen v. Roe, 429 U.S. 589, 599-600 (1977). The complaint alleges a violation of the first interest*fn35 when Cathcart informed C.R.W.'s teachers that Walsh had refused to allow his son to be tested as Young had recommended.*fn36
In the matter sub judice, the court finds that the information allegedly disclosed does not fall within the ambit of personal matters that are protected under the Fourteenth Amendment. See, e.g., Jones/Seymour v. LeFebvre, 781 F. Supp. 355, 358 (E.D. Pa. 1991) ("The constitutional right of privacy is not to be equated with the common law right recognized by state tort law. Thus far only the most intimate phases of personal life have been held to be constitutionally protected." (quoting McNally v. Pulitzer Publishing Co., 532 F.2d 69, 76 (8th Cir. 1976))). Walsh did not have a reasonable expectation that this information would not be communicated to other teachers at C.R.W.'s school.*fn37 See C.N. v. Ridgewood Bridgeport. of Educ., 430 F.3d 159, 179 (3d Cir. 2005) ("In determining whether information is entitled to privacy protection, [this Court] has looked at whether it is within an individual's reasonable expectations of confidentiality."). Accordingly, the court will grant the motions to dismiss with respect to this substantive due process claim and deny leave to amend as futile.
2. Fourth Amendment Claim
The Fourth Amendment prohibits "unreasonable searches and seizures." U.S. CONST. amend IV. Unlawful search and seizure claims require proof of an unconstitutional invasion of a plaintiff's "reasonable expectation of privacy" or a deprivation of his or her interest in property. See Soldal v. Cook County, 506 U.S. 56, 62-64 (1992); Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128, 133-35 (1978) (citing Alderman v. United States, 394 U.S. 165, 174 (1969)). In the matter sub judice, the complaint's allegations of eavesdropping by Krantz and an unknown Dallastown staff member are sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss.*fn38 Therefore, the court will deny the School District defendants' motion to dismiss the Fourth Amendment claim brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Krantz and an unknown Dallastown staff member.*fn39
For the foregoing reasons, the motions to dismiss will be granted in part and denied in part. An appropriate order will issue.
AND NOW, this 4th day of June, 2008, upon consideration of defendants' motions to dismiss (Docs. 3, 11), and the order of court dated February 14, 2008 (Doc. 45) staying the pretrial and trial schedule pending disposition of the instant motions, and for the reasons set forth in the accompanying memorandum, it is hereby ORDERED that the motions to dismiss (Docs. 3, 11) are GRANTED in part and DENIED in part as follows:
1. The following claims are DISMISSED:
a. All individual claims of plaintiff Rory M. Walsh for the alleged injuries sustained by his son.
b. All claims under 18 U.S.C. § 241 (Count I), 18 U.S.C. § 119 (Count IV), and 18 U.S.C. § 875 (Count IX).
c. All claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1985 (Count II).
d. All claims under the Privacy Act (Count III).
e. All claims under the Federal Wiretapping Act (Count V) and the Pennsylvania Wiretap Act (Count VII) against defendants Shari A. Young, Sue A. Cathcart, Judy Keeney, Kelly Heisey, and Dr. Stewart Weinberg.
f. All claims under 47 U.S.C. § 605 (Count VI).
g. All claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count VIII) premised on the substantive component of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Federal Wiretapping Act, 47 U.S.C. § 605, the Privacy Act, and 18 U.S.C. § 3771.
2. Plaintiff is GRANTED leave to file an amended complaint,*fn40 on or before June 18, 2008, with respect to the following claims:*fn41
a. Claim under 47 U.S.C. § 605
b. Fourth Amendment claim against defendant Dallastown Area School District brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.*fn42
3. Leave to amend is DENIED as futile with respect to all other dismissed claims. See Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 108 (3d Cir. 2002).
4. If plaintiff files an amended complaint, plaintiff shall specify in the amended complaint:
a. Which claims are brought individually and which claims are brought on behalf of C.R.W.
b. Which defendants are implicated by each claim.
5. Plaintiff is advised that he is not required to file an amended complaint for the instant matter to proceed. Failure to file a timely amended complaint will result in the case proceeding on the following claims:
a. Plaintiff's individual claims and claims on behalf of C.R.W. pursuant to the Federal Wiretapping Act (Count V) and the Pennsylvania Wiretap Act (Count VII) against defendants Dr. Robert Krantz, an unknown Dallastown staff member, and the Dallastown Area School District for the alleged eavesdropping on a telephone conversation between plaintiff and his son.
b. Plaintiff's individual*fn43 Fourth Amendment claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count VIII) against defendants Dr. Robert Krantz and an unknown Dallastown staff member for the alleged eavesdropping on a telephone conversation between plaintiff and his son.
6. The following pretrial schedule shall apply in the instant matter:
a. Discovery in the above-captioned matter shall be completed on or before September 16, 2008.
b. The parties shall be permitted to file, on or before September 30, 2008, dispositive motions with supporting briefs and statements of material fact. See FED. R. CIV. P. 56; L.R. 7.5, 56.1. Failure to file a supporting brief or statement of material facts in accordance with federal and local rules shall result in the motion being deemed withdrawn.
c. Plaintiff's expert reports shall be provided to defendants on or before September 30, 2008.*fn44
d. Defendants' expert reports shall be provided to plaintiff on or before October 31, 2008. See supra note 44.
e. Supplemental/rebuttal expert reports shall be provided to the opposing parties on or before November 14, 2008. See supra note 44.
7. Upon resolution of any dispositive motions, the court shall issue a revised pretrial and trial schedule if necessary.
CHRISTOPHER C. CONNER United States District Judge