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Bey v. East Penn School District

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

July 20, 2017

NOBLE WOMAN CHIEF NIKA RAET BEY, Plaintiff,
v.
EAST PENN SCHOOL DISTRICT; WESCOSVILLE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL; TARA DESIDERIO; KRISTEN CAMPBELL; DR. MICHAEL SCHILDER, Defendants.

          OPINION DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS, ECF NO. 10 - GRANTED

          JOSEPH F. LEESON, JR. United States District Judge

         In May 2016, Plaintiff Nika Raet Bey, the mother of two children formerly enrolled in the East Penn School District, proceeding pro se, initiated this civil rights action under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Bey's claims arise out of a series of alleged incidents involving inadequate individual education programs (IEPs) for her children, threats made by other students against her children, and school officials' failure to appropriately investigate these threats. Defendants have collectively moved to dismiss Bey's Complaint. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion is granted and Bey's Complaint is dismissed without prejudice.

         I. Background

         Bey's Complaint alleges the following facts.

         From March 2015 through December 2015, Bey's son and daughter, both of whom are autistic, were enrolled in Wescosville Elementary School, within the East Penn School District. Compl. ¶ III, C, ECF Nos. 1, 8. During this time, the School District failed to “provide [an] adequate I.E.P. under accurate evaluations” for Bey's two children. Id. In addition, Bey's children were subjected to threats from students “of a different race.” Id. Tara Desiderio, the Principal of Wescosville Elementary School, “failed to conduct an appropriate . . . investigation” to determine the identities of the students who threatened Bey's children. Id. Bey “complained to the [p]rincipal, tried to meet with the children's teachers, ” and ultimately withdrew her children from the District. Id.[1] Thereafter, the School District and Principal Desiderio “press[ed] charges against [Bey]” for removing her children from the school. Id. Bey seeks an award of “$400, 000.00 in damages” as well as an injunction “assuring homeless families and families with disabilities that fraud against them [and] false allegations against them will not be tolerated.” Id. ¶ 5.

         II. Standard of Review

         A. Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits the court to dismiss a complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. A Rule 12(b)(1) challenge may either be made in the form of a facial challenge or a factual challenge. Warren v. Matthey, No. 15-1919, 2016 WL 215232, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 19, 2016). Where, as here, an attack is facial, the court must consider only “the allegations of the complaint and documents referenced therein and attached thereto, in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Id. (quoting Gould Elecs. Inc. v. United States, 220 F.3d 169, 176 (3d Cir. 2000)).

         B. Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim

         The defendant bears the burden of demonstrating that a plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005) (citing Kehr Packages, Inc. v. Fidelcor, Inc., 926 F.2d 1406, 1409 (3d Cir. 1991)). This Court must “accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief.” See Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Pinker v. Roche Holdings Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 374 n.7 (3d Cir. 2002)) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         In Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), the Supreme Court recognized that “a plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” 550 U.S. at 555 (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). In Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), the Court subsequently laid out a two-part approach to reviewing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).

         First, the Court observed, “the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Id. at 678. Thus, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice” to survive the motion; “instead, ‘a complaint must allege facts suggestive of [the proscribed] conduct.'” Id.; Phillips, 515 F.3d at 233 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 563 n.8). While Rule 8, which requires only “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” was “a notable and generous departure from the hyper-technical, code-pleading regime of a prior era, . . . it does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79 (“Rule 8 . . . demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555)); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). For “without some factual allegation in the complaint, a claimant cannot satisfy the requirement that he or she provide not only ‘fair notice' but also the ‘grounds' on which the claim rests.” Phillips, 515 F.3d 224, 232 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 n.3).

         Second, the Court emphasized, “only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss. Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief . . . [is] a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Only if “the ‘[f]actual allegations . . . raise a right to relief above the speculative level'” has the plaintiff stated a plausible claim. Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). This is because Rule 8(a)(2) “requires not merely a short and plain statement, but instead mandates a statement ‘showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” See id., 515 F.3d at 234 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). If “the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not ‘show[n]'-‘that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). “Detailed factual allegations” are not required, id. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555), but a claim must be “nudged . . . across the line from conceivable to plausible.” Id. at 680 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).

         “The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement, '” but there must be “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “Where a complaint pleads facts that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it ‘stops short of the line between ...


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