United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
case arises out of the sexual assault of D.B., a minor child,
by Arthur Phillips, an instructional aide at Conestoga High
School, where D.B. was a tenth-grade student. Plaintiffs A.B.
and C.B. assert claims on behalf of their minor child D.B.
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Tredyffrin/Easttown
School District and Dr. Amy Meisinger, the principal of
Conestoga High School, and Title IX of the Education
Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. § 1681, et. seq.
("Title IX-) against Tredyffrin/Easttown School
District. Presently before the Court is Defendants‘
Motion to Dismiss. For the reasons that follow, the Motion is
granted in part and denied in part.
facts as alleged in Plaintiffs‘ Complaint are as
follows. In January, 2017, D.B. was a 15-year-old tenth-grade
student at Conestoga High School ("Conestoga-) in
Chester County, Pennsylvania. Compl. ¶ 22. Arthur
Phillips was an instructional aide at Conestoga, working in
the TV production studio. Compl. ¶ 24, 25. Conestoga is
a public high school in the Tredyffrin/Easttown School
District ("School District-). Compl. ¶¶ 12,
13. Defendant Dr. Amy Meisinger was the principal of
Conestoga at all relevant times. Compl. ¶ 14.
in January, 2017, Phillips initiated improper and indecent
sexual contact with D.B., including touching, kissing,
fondling, and digital penetration. Compl. ¶ 30. Phillips
forced D.B. into sexual intercourse at least five times in
April, 2017. Compl. ¶ 32, 33. Phillips also made
romantic and sexual comments to D.B. and sent D.B. a
photograph of his penis via text message on at least two
occasions. Compl. ¶¶ 40-42. Many of the sexual
assaults occurred on school grounds and during school hours.
Compl. ¶¶ 33, 47.
allege that several faculty members at Conestoga knew about
Phillips‘ inappropriate relationship with D.B. Piera
Raffaele, a visual/performing arts teacher at Conestoga,
accompanied Phillips and D.B. to restaurants and went on a
double date with her husband, Phillips, and D.B. on or around
D.B.‘s sixteenth birthday in March, 2017. Compl.
¶¶ 57, 58. In addition, TV studio aide Alex Azar
referred to D.B. as Phillips‘ girlfriend in front of
business and technology teacher Susan Houseman and language
and composition teacher Caitlin Wilson. Compl. ¶ 104.
also allege that members of the Conestoga administration knew
of some of Phillips‘ inappropriate behavior. Assistant
Principal Anthony DiLella saw Phillips pull D.B. into an
empty classroom and told Assistant Principal Bankert that the
incident "made the hair on the back of my neck standup
[sic]."Compl. ¶¶ 39, 128, 129. Assistant
Principal Bankert told Dr. Christine Dunleavy, a mental
health specialist at Conestoga, that she needed to check on
D.B. because he "saw something in [D.B‘s]
eyes"that worried him. Compl. ¶ 131. Assistant
Principals DiLella and Bankert did nothing to discipline or
question Phillips or inform D.B.‘s parents about the
incident. Compl. ¶¶ 130, 131.
April 11, 2017, during Conestoga‘s spring break,
D.B.‘s mother saw Phillips‘ car parked near
plaintiffs‘ home and saw Phillips speaking to D.B.
Compl. ¶¶ 112, 113. On April 18, 2017, the first
school day following spring break, D.B.‘s parents went
to Conestoga to meet with Assistant Principal DiLella. Compl.
¶ 118. After D.B.‘s parents left Conestoga,
Principal Meisinger, Assistant Principal DiLella, and Dr.
Dunleavy searched for D.B. and found her near Phillips‘
office. Compl. ¶ 122. After speaking with D.B., school
administrators contacted the Tredyffrin Township Police and
removed Phillips from Conestoga that day. Compl. ¶
123-26. On April 21, 2017, Phillips was charged with 60
felony counts. Compl. ¶ 138.
Complaint also sets forth allegations of several sex-related
scandals in the School District. First, Christine Towers, a
former teacher‘s aide and coach at Conestoga, was
convicted of having sex in 2016 with a 16-year-old
learning-disabled student whom she tutored. Compl.
¶¶ 144, 145. Second, in October, 2015,
upperclassmen students on the football team allegedly
sodomized an underclassmen teammate with a broom handle.
Compl. ¶¶ 148, 149. Third, in November, 2015, three
students ages 11 to 15 faced charges of distributing or
offering to share sexually explicit images, including photos
of their classmates. Compl. ¶ 152.
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a
party to respond to a pleading by filing a motion to dismiss
for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted."To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint
must allege facts that "‗raise a right to relief
above the speculative level.‘"Victaulic Co. v.
Tieman, 499 F.3d 227, 234 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007)). A complaint must contain "sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to ‗state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.‘"Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). A district court first
identifies those factual allegations that constitute nothing
more than "legal conclusions"or "naked
assertions."Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557. Such
allegations are "not entitled to the assumption of
truth"and must be disregarded. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 679. The court then assesses the remaining
"'nub‘ of the plaintiff‘s] complaint-the
well-pleaded, nonconclusory factual allegation[s]”-to
determine whether the complaint states a plausible claim for
assert a § 1983 claim against Principal Meisinger and
the School District and a sexual discrimination and