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Muhammad v. Pennsylvania Department of Education

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

October 1, 2019

MAURICE MUHAMMAD, Plaintiff,
v.
PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION; SIEGFRIED ELEMENTARY SCHOOL NORTHAMPTON PA; RENEA SALITT, School Administrator Principal;[1] CYNTHIA CORA HOCH SNYDER, School Admin 2nd Gr Teacher;[2] JOSEPH S. KOVALCHIK, Super Intendant; SCHOOL COUNSELORS; BLAKE LAST NAME UNKNOWN, Student; and PARENTS OF BLAKE STUDENT, Unknown, Defendants.

          OPINION

          JOSEPH F. LEESON, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 20 - Granted in Part and Denied in Part as Moot

         I. INTRODUCTION

         A grandfather to an elementary school child presented this action pro se against his granddaughter's school, the Pennsylvania Department of Education, school employees, a fellow student, and the parents of that student based on “harassment, ” “intimidation, ” and “threats” towards his granddaughter. The complaint appears to allege a general claim for civil rights violations. The school employees have moved to dismiss the complaint for insufficient service of process, for failure to state a claim, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, or, in the alternative, for a more definitive statement. For the reasons set forth below, the school employees' motion to dismiss is granted in part and denied in part as moot, and the complaint is dismissed.

         II. BACKGROUND[3]

         A. Factual Background

         Muhammad filed this civil action using the general, non-prisoner, pro se form complaint provided by the Eastern District of Pennsylvania through its website. He alleges the events giving rise to his claims occurred at the Siegfried Elementary School in Northampton, Pennsylvania, from September 2017 to October 2017.[4] Muhammad's complaint does not identify the basis for the Court's jurisdiction or enumerate a specific cause of action against Defendants. The entirety of Muhammad's factual allegations are as follows:

The above defendants did willfully Deny [sic] My [sic] Grandaughter [sic] ZP the right to peaceful and safe Learning [sic] Enviornment, [sic] by allowing for another student to, to [sic] continue to harass threaten, and intimidate ZP after repeated attempts to resolve the problem, race being a major factor, because of her race ZP was not taken as serious and not considered as others Involved [sic] were, ZP was Traumatized [sic] by the event. [sic] It caused her to be punished by her mother, which led to Children [sic] in youth being involved, we have had to take cust. [sic] To prevent further harm from happening [sic]
[Renee Sallit] was informed and did not act in a manner to protect ZP [sic] Cynthia Hoch did not Protect [sic] ZP from said student Blake last name unknown, the super intendant [sic] did nothing to protect the black student from the threats of a white student who touched her inappropriatly, [sic] and made her faerfull [sic]for her life, [sic]
Further the school counclers [sic] did not do they [sic] part in the matter another [sic] 2nd Grade [sic] student witnessed the student blake [sic] strike student ZP with a book bag and Teacher [sic] brushed it off as Quote: [sic] (That student will say yes to anything if asked) [sic]

Compl. 3, ECF No. 2.

         B. Procedural Background

         On June 22, 2018, Muhammad filed his complaint, an application to proceed in forma pauperis, and a motion to appoint counsel. On June 28, 2018, the Court denied his motion to proceed in forma pauperis and directed him to complete the non-prisoner application to proceed in forma pauperis or pay $400.00 to the Clerk of Court. Muhammad paid the filing fee and summonses were issued and handed to Muhammad on July 9, 2018. The Court denied Muhammad's motion to appoint counsel without prejudice on August 14, 2018.

         The Clerk of Court issued a notice to Muhammad regarding the absence of proof of service on the Court's docket on September 10, 2018. The notice directed Muhammad to promptly file proof of service pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4 or to promptly serve Defendants and file proof of service with the Clerk of Court. Seven days later, on September 17, 2018, Muhammad filed affidavits of service purporting to have served personally Renee ...


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