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John Peters v. Sandra M. Craft and Brookville Area School District

October 3, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: U.S. Magistrate Judge Maureen P. Kelly

[ECF No. 17]


KELLY, Magistrate Judge

In this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights action alleging violations of the First Amendment, the Court will grant the Defendants‟ pending Motion to Dismiss the Second Amended Complaint. [ECF No. 17].


In the Second Amended Complaint [ECF No. 15], Plaintiff, John Peters, ("Peters" or "Plaintiff"), alleges that his First Amendment rights were violated by the Brookville Area School District ("the District") and its Superintendent and ex officio member, Sandra M. Craft ("Craft"), when he was banned from school property.

According to the Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff‟s son, Bradley, was, at all relevant times, a sixth grader at Hickory Grove Elementary School. [ECF No. 15 at ¶ 12]. On June 1, 2010, Bradley was stabbed in the arm with a sharpened pencil by another student, allegedly in response to a provocative comment made by Bradley. [Id. at ¶14]. Bradley was sent to the nurse‟s office, but was not treated for approximately two hours, because the school nurse was unavailable. When he was seen, the nurse placed a Band-Aid over the area. [Id. at ¶¶ 15-17]. Plaintiff and his wife were not notified of the injury. [Id.].

Later the same day, when Plaintiff‟s wife arrived at the school to take Bradley to a scheduled doctor‟s appointment, he produced a note from his teacher, addressed to Plaintiff and his wife, stating that Bradley had used "inappropriate language" in speaking to a fellow student. The note did not mention the pencil portion of the incident, and, apparently, neither did Bradley. Later in the day, the Plaintiff noticed the Band-Aid on his son‟s arm and asked what had happened. Upset, Plaintiff called the school for a full account of the altercation, but the school was closed. Plaintiff‟s wife then took Bradley to the police station in Brookville, where he related the events of the day to Officer Markle. [Id. at ¶¶ 20-23]. Officer Markle listened, and inquired about the extent of Bradley‟s injuries, which seem to have been minimal. [Id. at ¶24].*fn1

Over the next two days, Plaintiff had "friendly conversations" with his son‟s teacher, the school principal, and Craft regarding "his concerns with the handling of the stabbing incident involving his son." [Id. at ¶¶ 25-34]. Craft told Plaintiff that she would look into the matter and contact him the next day. [Id. at 35]. As of June 8, 2010, Plaintiff had heard nothing. On that day, he encountered the school principal while he and his wife "were dropping off items for his child‟s class." [Id. at ¶ 36]. Plaintiff again expressed concern about the handling of the incident, and was told that he should complete a complaint form and "submit it to the Superintendent at the administration office." [Id. at ¶ 38]. Plaintiff went to the administration office, obtained the proper form, and asked the secretary whether the school had retained the pencil. [Id. at ¶39]. Presumably having been told no, Plaintiff and his wife proceeded to the Brookville police station to see if the pencil had been sent there. During his visit to the station, Plaintiff spoke with Officer Markle, and learned that the police intended to charge his son with disorderly conduct based on the comment that instigated the altercation. They did not "intend to charge the [other] student with any crimes." [Id. at ¶ 41]. Plaintiff questioned this decision, but Officer Markle stated that the case was closed. [Id. at ¶ 42].

After completing and filing the complaint form at the District‟s administrative offices, Plaintiff returned yet again to the Brookville police station to speak with the Chief of Police, Ken Dworek ("Dworek"), regarding the decision not to charge the other student. "On his way into the police station, Plaintiff encountered Officer Markle." [Id. at ¶ 51]. "Officer Markle approached Plaintiff in the parking lot and asked him why he was back . . . Markle then became aggressive with Plaintiff, standing toe-to-toe with him, and yelling in Plaintiff‟s face." [Id. at 52]. When the Plaintiff entered the police station, Chief Dworek, "like Officer Markle, became loud and aggressive toward Plaintiff." [Id. at 53]. Chief Dworek reiterated that the case was closed, that no additional charges would be filed, and that the matter had been handled appropriately. [Id. at ¶54].

On June 10, 2010, Plaintiff and his wife received a letter from Craft, sent at Chief Dworek‟s behest. Craft wrote:

Your recent behavior displayed on school grounds and at the police station is determined to be a threat to the safety and security of our staff. John Peters is not permitted to be on school property for any reason. Stacy Peters may drive to the front entrance of the school and school personnel will walk their child to the door to be released to the custody of the parent. Communication may occur via telephone or computer . . . If there is a violation of this procedure, the police will be notified immediately. [ECF No. 15-1]. Craft went on to explain that the discipline issue involving Bradley had been handled in accordance with school policy, but did not articulate any basis for the conclusion that Plaintiff‟s behavior posed a threat to school staff. Four days later, believing that Craft‟s letter applied only to actual educational buildings, Plaintiff went to the District‟s administration offices. He asked to speak with Craft, and to give her a letter requesting an emergency meeting of the Brookville Area School Board ("the Board") "to address [his] concerns relating to the lack of discipline of the student who had stabbed his son . . . and [Plaintiff‟s] ban from school property." [Id. at ¶ 62]. The secretary informed Plaintiff that Craft had directed her to call the police if he entered the building. Plaintiff gave the letter to the secretary, and told her that he would wait outside for the police to arrive. "Eventually" the Brookville police arrived and arrested Plaintiff for defiant trespass." [Id. at ¶ 67].

Plaintiff contends that in response to written requests, he was given permission to drive onto school property to pick up his children for scheduled appointments, provided that he remained in his car. He also contends that on multiple occasions he requested permission to attend Board meetings, but did not received a response. [Id. at ΒΆ 67-69]. Fearing another arrest, he has not attended or attempted to attend a Board meeting. [Id. at ...

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